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The Season

Nonfiction: History
Unabridged   10.5 hour(s)
Publication date: 11/19/2019

The Season

A Social History of the Debutante

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684575053
Digital Download ISBN:9781684575046


In this enthralling history of the debutante ritual, Kristen Richardson sheds new light on contemporary ideas about women and marriage.

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Product Description

Kristen Richardson, from a family of debutantes, chose not to debut. But as her curiosity drove her to research this enduring custom, she learned that it, and debutantes, are not as simple as they seem.

The story begins in England six hundred years ago when wealthy fathers needed an efficient way to find appropriate husbands for their daughters. Elizabeth I's exclusive presentations at her court expanded into London's full season of dances, dinners, and courting, extending eventually to the many corners of the British empire and beyond.

Richardson traces the social seasons of young women on both sides of the Atlantic, from Georgian England to colonial Philadelphia, from the Antebellum South and Wharton's New York back to England. She delves into Jazz Age debuts, carnival balls in the American South, and the reimagined ritual of elite African American communities.

The Season shares the captivating stories of these young women, often through their words from diaries, letters, and interviews that Richardson conducted at contemporary balls. The debutantes give voice to an array of complex feelings about being put on display, about the young men they meet, and about what their future in society or as wives might be.


The Season is a must for readers of social history, and all will appreciate Richardson's fluid, descriptive prose.” —Booklist

“[An] entertaining, eye-opening portrait.” —Publishers Weekly

“Kristen Richardson writes so gracefully, and tells a story of courtship and marriage I knew nothing about and found fascinating.” —Ira Glass, host of This American Life

“My grandmother was presented to England’s King George V and my mother was Queen of the Veiled Prophet in St. Louis, but it wasn’t until I read The Season that I understood the enduring fascination and importance of that ritual. Kristen Richardson shows us, with wit and insight, how unmarried girls in long white dresses have publicly embodied the prestige of successful families―across centuries and around the world.”—Carol Wallace, coauthor of To Marry an English Lord

Author Bio

Kristen Richardson was born in London, and lives with her son in Brooklyn. The Season is her first book.