When we left Wallis in 1936, her boyfriend just got a major promotion that would, more than likely, leave her in the rear view mirror of his life. She was cool with that, but he had a whole different vision: Wallis in the passenger seat.
Puppet? Manipulating social climber? Misunderstood? Deeply in love? However you see her, the fact remains that a king abdicated his throne, defied his family and lived in exile to marry twice divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.
That sounds like a woman we should talk about.
Bessiewallis (not a typo) was born on June 19th, 1896 to Teakle Wallis and Alice Montegue Warfield. Contrary to the way she was portrayed later in her life, she came from two, long-established, southern-American society families who made money, a lot of it. Her father’s held on to it and took life very seriously, and her mother’s, well, they were “eccentric.”Both families objected to the marriage for, essentially, the same reason: Teakle was ill with tuberculosis and in no position to marry beautiful, charming Alice (and her family thought she could do better, anyway.)
Guess what happened? Teakle died before Bessiewallis’ first birthday and Alice was left penniless with a baby–the two would become financially dependent on Teakle’s veeeery proper mother and his unmarried, wealthy, live-with-Mom, meanie brother, Solomon.
Alice and Wallis (she dropped the “Bessie” as quickly as possible) moved around the Baltimore area for all of her childhood. Wallis was bright, charming, very polite and had just enough mischief in her to make her quite interesting. Her Uncle Sol did pay for the right schools (have to keep the family name in the right places, you know, plus…control) and when Wallis emerged from high school, Oldfield’s, he (sort of) paid for her debutante season.
What does a properly raised society girl do after all that? She’s going to Disney Wor…oh, well, close: Pensacola, Florida where she met and quickly married, handsome, sophisticated, military pilot Earl Winfield Spencer. But Win wasn’t the guy she thought he was. The marriage was horrible. He drank a lot and emotionally and physically abused her. As an officer’s wife she lived nicely in different places around the country, but after ten years (not all living together), Wallis was finally able to divorce him.
Instead of going home, Wallis spent a full year in China, a time she later called her “Lotus Year.” This time traveling alone created myth and intrigue later in her life, but it was a good transition from Military Wife to Divorcee Socialite. But Wallis wasn’t one to sit around and wait. She was a master at making social connections and soon was married again to an English-American, Ernest Aldrich Simpson.
The couple lived in London where Ernest worked in the family business, a ship brokerage, and Wallis mastered London society. Her parties were marvelously different…SHE was marvelously different than what people had known. They climbed the social ladder fairly quickly (Wallis was very good at this) and, one day, found themselves in the upper tier: a weekend hunting party with Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King of England who also had a thing for married American women.
At first Wallis and Ernest ran with the princely crowd…then it was only Wallis running with them and, a few years later when his father died and Edward became king, Wallis was Edward’s American woman and he wanted to make her his queen.
The country loved the future king…but the Prime Minister didn’t think he was the Prince for the job, what with his sympathies for Nazis and all. Edward, it seems, was successfully courted by Adolf Hitler (not directly) and he gave every indication that he was on board with Hitler’s plan. Add to his lack of appeal as king: Wallis was divorced, would have to be divorced a second time…and an American? Oh, no, this wouldn’t do.
But then this happened, King George V died and Wallis’ boyfriend was now King Edward VIII!
And the rest of the story will be told on part two….
Go check out Beckett’s amazing Pinterest board for Wallis Simpson, that’s where all the truly fabulous pictures are.
All media recommendations will be on part two.
Our flask recommendation is right here at our Zazzle shop..
Annie Oakley was a top sharpshooter who gained worldwide fame during nearly two decades as a headliner with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS
Here’s that (unnecessary rabbit hole) to the world’s largest Monopoly board:
The Bowery Boys Podcast’s coverage of the history of Madison Square Garden:
The Annie Oakley Festival: (which is happening ON THE DAY I POST THIS… dang it, there’s always next year! )
The Garst museum of Darke County:
Annie shoots on film (Thomas Edison kinetoscope, no sound)
Modern day lady trick shooter:
Kirsten Joy Weiss
Annie Oakley TV show
“Annie Oakley hits the bullseye with her rough ridin’ straight shootin’ suspense!
Annie v Toby Walker 1935
The whole setup to the contest looks different (somehow) in 1950:
Emily Price Post is most known as an expert on etiquette, but she didn’t even publish her first book on the subject until she was 50-years-old. (Listen up! You’re never too old!) Before that book she was a novelist, journalist, decorator, and architectural consultant. Before those, she was a doted on only child of progressive parents, debutante, heiress, society wife and mother. A very busy life for a woman that COULD have lived a life of leisure.
But where is the fun in that?
Emily Bruce Price was born on October 27, 1872 (according to her gravestone) in Baltimore MD, to Bruce and Josephine Price. Bruce was an upcoming, then quite famous, architect from a wealthy family; Josephine also came from wealth and could trace her lineage straight back to the Mayflower.
Emily was doted on as a child, she spent as little time as possible in school and as much time as possible with her father who showed her how buildings are designed and built and thought it a shame that Emily wasn’t a boy so he could become an architect, too (“progressive” is relative.) The base of the Statue of Liberty and the hills lakes and rustic opulence of Tuxedo Park, NY were her playground.
She did what was expected of her in the 1800s as New York society flipped their calendars to the 1900s: She went to finishing school, had her debut into society, met a man with good breeding and married him. The Edwin Posts had two boys, Edwin worked (hard? lucky? you pick) as a stock broker, and, other than a few years on Staten Island, lived in Manhattan and Tuxedo Park.
Yup, on(and in) the papers they had it all…but no. They couple had nothing in common, Bruce’s financial luck was about to run out and, oh yeah, he had a thing for chorus girls, duck hunting and boating.
After a blackmailing scandal Emily had had enough. Done. Finished. She divorced Edwin and set off to make a name for herself.
We cover her career ups and downs in the podcast, but basically while raising the boys (then sending them to boarding school) she started to write novels, freelance pieces for magazines, and started to work as an architectural and home designer…not too shabby for a woman who probably didn’t have to work for an income in the first place, huh?
After Etiquette was first published in 1922 Emily’s legacy began to solidify. The huge best seller made her name and etiquette synonymous.
She was on tour promoting her book, started regular radio shows, wrote a syndicated advice column but she did have other interests that she continued to pursue (and we talk about them in the show) including this very well received non-fiction book about home design…
…and her new favorite home on Martha’s Vineyard.
Etiquette has been revised over the years to keep up with how people REALLY live and is currently in it’s 19th edition. There is a whole library of other advice and etiquette books written either by her or her descendants.
Dear Emily, If there is an opportunity for you to share something that is quite messy but you think may be well received, should you?
Emily Post died on September 25, 1960 of natural causes (polite nod to Post family), her ashes are buried at the Tuxedo Park Cemetery.
TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS
You should start here at the Emily Post Institute. It has everything from photos, to history, the Awesome Etiquette podcast and an encyclopedia of advice for all your etiquette-based, searchable database needs.
A couple more things we could have talked about for the whole hour but didn’t:
Obviously, you should go pick up a copy (lift with your legs) of Etiquette, but also give her fiction a whirl.
The non-fiction book that isn’t online but if you can find a copy, grab it if only to flip through and appreciate the mountain of knowledge Emily
Emily Post books you can read online (if you can’t find them at your library):
Other books we talked about:
And finally, Mrs Emily Price Post herself:
Wherever you are is my home
directed by Amanda Topping
This is the final episode of Season One. We cover this episode, as we have for the past six weeks, and pinpoint the cliffhangers and stories Moira Walley-Beckett and team have to work with for (the biggest cliffhanger) Season Two. (pleasebeaseasontwopleasebeaseasontwo)
There was a little confusion about the direction of OUR show, The History Chicks, and thank you to all who realized that we did NOT alter our regularly scheduled coverage of historical women at all with this bonus series. This was an example of The History Chicks accessories. It was fun to do and if Anne comes back, so will we. (Well, we’ll be back next week with the life story of a remarkable woman whose identity will remain secret until then.)
We’ll put that in the shownotes!
Give them some thanks for this excellent series (and, maybe, ask for season two):
You should thank these three for their work, and follow their careers and life antics, but we doubt they have anything to do with a second season:
The absolutely spot on Family Road Trip song that Jerry sang, Il éait une bergère’s lyrics (WITH translation into English that will reveal a dark side to this children’s song) on Mama Lisa’s World, International Music and Culture.
History for kids of PEI- A fun resource for kids to learn about the long history of Prince Edward Island
Anne with an “E” Reading Challenge:
(all links, unless noted, go to online versions)
The Grasshopper by Mrs. Andrew Dean
the Bible (various verses. Link to KJV because that’s what Anne would have read.)
Red: A natural history of the redhead by Jacky Collis Harvey (link to Amazon, it’s not available online)
**new this week** Middlemarch, by George Eliot
(And this is the Libby App that Beckett is a huge fan of)
See you for Season Two!!