March 7, 2017

The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London by Hannah Greig

By Hannah Greig

Caricatured for extravagance, vainness, glamorous megastar and, all too usually, embroiled in scandal and gossip, 18th-century London's stylish society had a richly deserved popularity for frivolity. yet to be stylish in 1700s London intended greater than easily being good dressed. type denoted club of a brand new kind of society - the beau monde, an international the place prestige was once now not decided via coronets and countryseats by myself yet through the extra nebulous qualification of metropolitan 'fashion'. Conspicuous intake and reveal have been the most important: the ideal tackle, the fitting dinner visitors, the proper possessions, the appropriate jewels, the proper seat on the opera.

The Beau Monde leads us on a journey of this fascinating new global, from court docket and parliament to London's parks, excitement grounds, and personal houses. From brash screens of diamond jewellery to the sophisticated complexities of political intrigue, we see how club of the hot elite was once gained, maintained - and occasionally misplaced. at the means, we meet a wealthy and colourful solid of characters, from the newly ennobled peer studying the ropes and the imposter attempting to achieve access by way of smart fakery, to the exile banned for sexual indiscretion.

Above all, because the tale unfolds, we study that being a modern used to be approximately excess of easily being 'modish'. by means of the top of the century, it had develop into not anything below the main to strength and exclusivity in a replaced international.

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Additional resources for The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London

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Chapters 1 and 2 focus on the key criteria contemporary commentators associated with life in the beau monde, namely ostentatious consumption and fast urban living. Chapter 1 (‘Leading the fashion’) analyses the relationship of the beau monde to fashion and the material expression of an exclusive identity. Chapter 2 (‘Life in the town’) explores the role of sociability, social display, and the beau monde’s relationship to urban space. Chapters 3 and 4 then focus on the relationship between fashionable society, the royal court, and parliament, examining the institutions that structured the beau monde’s metropolitan priorities.

Reddy cut and dried a fine woman,’ she lamented in her diary, ‘twas not possible to be made aqquented with the World . . ’ 41 In particular, cripplingly shy and deeply depressive, she found the beau monde’s public profi le and practised sociability impossible to manage. At 30, she decided to stop her miserable and unsuccessful quest for social acceptance. ‘What should I do any more in Publick,’ she wrote despairingly in November 1727. No! I’ll strive no more against the Stream. The World was not made for me, nor I for the World.

6 As will be discussed, the Straffords were newcomers to London society and, in consequence, their correspondence (extending to over 200 letters) offers a uniquely detailed roadmap to its codes. The Straffords’ preoccupations about London fashion reveal the key categories of goods prioritized by the beau monde, the exclusive world the Straffords hoped to enter. Unsurprisingly, the possessions foregrounded in their endeavour were ostentatious, showy, and similar, in that regard, to the forms pilloried by satirists.

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