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Emily Post

Author, Founder of The Emily Post Institute

Country:United States

Lifetime: 1872 - 1960 Passed: ≈ 62 years ago

Emily Post was an American author, novelist, and socialite, famous for writing about etiquette.

 

Post was born Emily Bruce Price in Baltimore, Maryland, possibly in October 1872. The precise date is unknown. Her father was the architect Bruce Price, famed for designing luxury communities. Her mother Josephine (Lee) Price of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was the daughter of a wealthy coal baron. After being educated at home in her early years, Price attended Miss Graham's finishing school in New York after her family moved there.

 

The New York Times' Dinitia Smith reports, in her review of Laura Claridge's 2008 biography of Post,

Emily was tall, pretty and spoiled. She grew up in a world of grand estates, her life governed by carefully delineated rituals like the cotillion with its complex forms and its dances — the Fan, the Ladies Mocked, Mother Goose — called out in dizzying turns by the dance master.

 

Price met her future husband, Edwin Main Post, a prominent banker, at a ball in a Fifth Avenue mansion. Following their wedding in 1892 and a honeymoon tour of Europe, they lived in New York's Washington Square. They also had a country cottage, named "Emily Post Cottage", in Tuxedo Park, which was one of four Bruce Price Cottages she inherited from her father. The couple moved to Staten Island and had two sons, Edwin Main Post Jr. (1893) and Bruce Price Post (1895).

 

Emily and Edwin divorced in 1905 because of his affairs with chorus girls and fledgling actresses, which made him the target of blackmail.

 

Post wrote in various styles, including humorous travel books, early in her career. She published her first etiquette book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (1922, frequently referenced as Etiquette) when she was 50; it became a best-seller, with updated versions continued to be popular for decades, and it made her career. After 1931, Post spoke on radio programs and wrote a column on good taste for the Bell Syndicate; it appeared daily in some 200 newspapers after 1932.

 

In her review of Claridge's 2008 biography of Post, The New York Times' Dinitia Smith explains the keys to Post's popularity:

Such books had always been popular in America: the country’s exotic mix of immigrants and newly rich were eager to fit in with the establishment. Men had to be taught not to blow their noses into their hands or to spit tobacco onto ladies’ backs. Arthur M. Schlesinger, who wrote “Learning How to Behave: A Historical Study of American Etiquette Books” in 1946, said that etiquette books were part of “the leveling-up process of democracy,” an attempt to resolve the conflict between the democratic ideal and the reality of class. But Post’s etiquette books went far beyond those of her predecessors. They read like short-story collections with recurring characters, the Toploftys, the Eminents, the Richan Vulgars, the Gildings and the Kindharts.

 

In 1946, Post founded The Emily Post Institute, which continues her work.

 

Post died in 1960 in her New York City apartment at the age of 87.

 

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Books by Emily Post