Consuelo Vanderbilt, the Duchess of Marlboro, one of the women we cover in this episode.

As we got excited about the upcoming Downton Abbey movie, we thought back to the Gilded Age heiresses who inspired both the original TV show AND our podcast. Julian Fellowes and Beckett Graham both read the same book which prompted each to pursue projects based on it. Mr. Fellowes* created Downton Abbey and Mrs. Graham thought, “I should make a women’s history podcast!”

By Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace (someone seems to have forgotten to ask us for an endorsement for the cover, huh. Curious.)

Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, was one of those American heiresses who traded an influx of cash for a husband and a British title. Unlike a lot of these women, she was fortunate and her marriage was a love match (and is fictional, so…) Her story will continue into the 1920s in the upcoming movie but the show’s beginning was set in the Gilded Age.

Back in 2011, we went back to the Gilded Age with a series on some specific heiresses as well as the phenomenon in general where we looked at the lives of both these aristocratic women and the servants that made them look good. The lady’s maids, scullery maids, cooks, butlers…the whole crew who did all the work while the glitzy women got all the glory. We combined two of those episodes into this one, but there are deeper dives into the lives of The Mrs. Astor in episode 8, and Jennie Jerome Churchill in episode 10.


*That would be “Baron Fellowes of West Stafford.”


You can access all the information we talked about in the shownotes on the Gilded Age Servants and for the Gilded Age Heiresses episodes.

To join us as we visit places we’ve only talked about on the show–including a couple that are in this episode!–get signed up for more information. Finalized details and registration coming soon:

Click to get more information on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!


We appreciate both our sponsors and those who support them!

For 15% off your first order and to find your perfect bra, visit!


End music: Daughters of History by Evening Sky, via MusicAlley.