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The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London Hardcover – 26 Sep 2013

3.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1st Edition edition (26 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199659001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199659005
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 2.3 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Ms. Greig's work is an absorbing cultural and political history of aristocratic Georgian England. (Austenprose Blog)

Hannah Greig ... tackles the challenge posed by her title The Beau Monde, head on, wrestling with it, taking it apart, even adding a dense but deeply researched "supplementary essay" on the uses and meanings of the term. All this pays off, for her vivd and playful book tantalizes us ... Greig moves with faultless poise through the London scenes that she has so carefully and memorably anatomized (Anthony Fletcher, TLS)

The pages of Greig's work sparkle with lush descriptions of jewels, clothing and colourful pictures of elite life... Readers seeking a meticulously researched exploration of the world of the beau monde won't be disappointed. (BBC History magazine)

A fascinating study... If you remember Michael Heseltine being dismissively described by Alan Clark as a man who bought his own furniture, you will find Greig's thoughtful account of its 18th-century equivalent a great read. (The Times Higher Education Supplement)

The Beau Monde is diligently researched and the footnotes are full of matter. (Norma Clarke, Literary Review)

Meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated, including merciless satirical drawings of the time, The Beau Monde is a fascinating spin round this most colourful period. (The Lady)

This book, beautifully illustrated throughout, encapsulates the quest for power and exclusivity in a changing world. (Discover Your History)

A sparkling and iconoclastic debut. Hannah Greig rescues belles and beaux from celebrity biography to restore a dynamic social universe, charting the rise of a new social leadership in the wake of the glorious revolution - forged by fashion, and remade in town every single season. (Amanda Vickery, author of Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England)

an impressively researched and wide-ranging account of the social and cultural practices of 18th-century Britain's "fashionable" aristocratic elite (M.H. Markus, CHOICE)

I suspect that it will succeed in gaining a wide readership ― deservedly so, because it manages to combine readability (Greig has a keen eye for lively quotation and telling details) with subtle and important scholarship. (Bob Harris, English Historical Review)

there is much to commend here. The wealth of manuscript material mined in the course of the book's production is impressive. Greig's use of a variety of household accounts helps to illustrate some keen observations. (Robin Eagles, History)

About the Author

Hannah Greig is a lecturer in eighteenth-century British history at the University of York. Prior to joining York she held posts at Balliol College, Oxford, and the Royal College of Art. Alongside her academic work, Dr Greig works as a historical adviser for film, television and theatre. Recent credits include the feature film The Duchess (Pathe/BBC films 2008, directed by Saul Dibb) and Jamie Lloyd's production of The School for Scandal (at the Theatre Royal in Bath).

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This is a rigorous investigation into the eighteenth-century beau monde, the London-based leaders of fashion, which uncovers the way in which politics, power and cultural authority were re-configured under the banner of fashion and taste.

As Grieg demonstrates, the beau monde weren't generally constituted from the rising middle classes, but from the already established elite: the titled, the noble and the aristocratic. The big names - Cavendish, Harley, Montagu, for example - don't change from the key political families of the seventeenth-century and the Restoration, sometimes continue from even earlier, and offer evidence for the way in which power didn't so much shift or transfer as become invested in partially different qualities and manifestations.

Grieg takes issue not just with the traditional emphasis on how fashion and the fashionable enabled social mobility, but also with the idea that the beau monde allowed an expansion of female authority: taking a nuanced view of the phenomenon of great London society hostesses, she gives a more varied account than the conventional picture.

So this is excellent on the way in which the shift of political power to Parliament and, hence, London underlies the creation of `the Season', and how fashionable urban spaces - the opera, the theatre, parks and pleasure gardens - operate as spaces in which the elite could perform their cultural and political authority for a commoner audience.

This is a scholarly study with all the requisite accoutrements but is also accessible for general readers. Anyone interested in how the forces of power, politics and authority shape and manifest themselves in social and cultural phenomena, in this case the creation of a world of fashion, should find this a stimulating read - recommended.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very handsome book, as elegant and urbane as the genteel about town that it describes so elegantly. Hannah Greig examines the defining figure of the late 18th century: the man and woman of fashion, firmly situated in their urban context. A sequence of chapters also focus upon Restoration and 18th-century cultural staples, such as the gauche but innocent countryside versus the cunning colourful city. This is a highly accomplished examination of how the aristocracy in Britain reoriented their sense of self in order to project power and authority in a variety of new configurations. There is also a fascinating insight into the mechanics and politics of 18th-century ideas and agendas centred on fashion. Thus far the intellectual! This is also a handsomely produced book with a bewitching cover depicting the most luminescent coat waistcoat and britches imaginable. As might be expected, there are frequent illustrations, but I can't help but feel a slightly shallow slightly heartfelt pang that they were all in black and white... Saying that, the production values of this fine book a very high with a very pleasing quality of binding and paper. The author freely acknowledges that this is a product of her Ph.D. thesis, and the casual reader ought to be warned that while accessible, the book does lean towards the academic.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Next year sees the tercentenary anniversary of the coming of the Georgian age, for it was in 1714 that the Hanoverian George came to the British throne, so we should expect see a flurry of related publications. The Eighteenth Century provides as a fascinating mine of material for the historian, particularly those with an interest in the emerging middle classes.

One such historian, Hannah Greig, offers a colourful view of this middle class phenomenon, a group of people, increasing in both wealth and number, who were not from the aristocracy but had time enough on their hands for the serious pursuit of leisure. And what a dangerous, almost cut-throat pursuit it became.

The obsession with manners, taste, fashion and reputation is laid bare in this engaging work. The examples the author gives us of this infatuation with the royal court, for example, for the 'beau monde' is both funny and tragic. However, we are reminded that this enthusiasm for 'getting things right' at face value could result in the ultimate goal - power.

This is a seriously good book - with content and originality to satisfy the serious student of the period whilst being interesting and well written enough for the general reader. Well recommended.
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By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 2 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover
“everything that is fashionable, polite and elegant”

Having long been an avid reader of books by Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen etc., I am familiar with the ways of the 1700s and early 1800s where those of the ‘ton’ would come to London during October and stay till June, when, despairing of the hot summer months in town, they would disappear back to their regional seats to wait until the next ‘season’. During these London months, there was a mad round of social engagements, underlying which were familial, social and political contexts – favourable marriages were sought, young girls were brought out on their coming of age, connections were re-formed and made anew; salons, concerts, balls, picnics and theatre engagements filled the months, but there was deadly seriousness beneath any notion of frivolity. For these people were the titled and the entitled, those who were the members of the highest form of ‘polite society’.

To be ‘beau monde’ one had to meet the standards which involved pedigree, connections, manners, language, appearance, as well as fashion sense and a sense of the ‘correct’ society ways and manners. One thinks of Beau Brummell, who took five hours a day to dress, and recommended polishing one’s boots with champagne. While he was a ‘dandy’, there were plenty of other notable characters who made their mark over these decades of London fashionable society. The ‘beaus’, the ‘gallants’, those who over-dressed or under-dressed; those who scandalised polite society with their avant garde behaviour, fortunes made and lost, brides won and tossed aside, elopements, duels at dawn – it was all there.
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