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Age of Opulence: The Belle Epoque in the…

Age of Opulence: The Belle Epoque in the Paris Herald, 1890-1914

by Hebe Dorsey, Hebe Dorsey

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Hebe Dorseyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dorsey, Hebemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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The Belle Époque in Europe was one of the most glamorous, sumptuous, and stylish periods in modern history. In this carefree time, when all Europe was virtually one enormous playground, privileged people had everything they could ask for, including that most precious of today's commodities — time. To strains of Offenbach they went from balls to receptions, to and from spas to châteaus.

Nowhere was this brilliant era better recorded than in the Paris Herald. Launched in 1887 by James Gordon Bennett, Jr. The dashing son of the owner of the New York Herald, the Paris Herald was an immediate success and become indispensable reading not only for Americans abroad (expatriates among them) but for titled and wealthy Europeans eager to be in the swim. (The newspaper's "Personal Intelligence" column was the social register of who was in town and at what hotel or villa.) Bennett, no slouch himself when it came to high living (he conducted business from aboard his private 314 foot yacht), saw to it that the Paris Herald became "the most serious of frivolous newspapers."

Hebe Dorsey, the witty and widely read fashion and society editor of today's International Herald Tribune, has combed the archives of the Paris Herald from the years1890 to 1914, recreating the Belle Époque for the modern reader. Whether it was major news stories of the day or features on fashion, to arts, and sports, the Herald's reporters managed to cover the "scene": the famous balls; the flamboyant weddings, particularly those of American women marrying into European royalty (in the case of Consuelo Vanderbelt and the Duke of Marlborough the headline read, "Another American Duchess"); Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1987; madcap automobile races from Paris to Amsterdam and back; and even articles on dogs and their mistresses (the well-dressed dog of the day sported an overcoat matching its owner's). Every possibly notable of the arts was written about in the Paris Herald—Sarah Bernhardt, Tolstoy and Twain, Monet and Manet, Verdi, Ravel, and Puccini, the stars of the Ballet Russes, and more.

The irrepressible appeal and cachet, of the Belle Époque, that era of adventure and high spirits, are revealed here in splendid detail—actual headlines, stories, and illustrations (in both black and white and color) appear exactly as they did in the Paris Herald. For the reader of social history and biography, here is a wonderful glimpse of a time when life could be lived in the grandest style, even if only by turning to the pages of the Paris Herald.

With 147 pages of illustrations, including 16 in full color, from the archives of the Inteernational Herald Tribune. On the jacket: The Savoy Restaurant, March 24, 1907
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