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Emily Price Post

Emily Price Post

For many years a leading authority on socially correct etiquette from birth to burial, Emily Price Post (1873-1960) provided solutions to social problems. With a name synonymous with proper manners, she was a successful author, daily newspaper columnist, and radio commentator.

Born into a wealthy, socialite Eastern family, the date of birth variously reported as October 3, 27, or 30, 1873, Emily Price was the only child of Bruce Price, a distinguished Baltimore architect, and Josephine Lee Price. She was educated at home and attended Miss Graham's finishing school in New York where her family had moved. She grew up in an era of footmen, servants, chaperones, and cotillions. A popular debutante, she married society banker Edwin Main Post in 1892 and had two sons, Edwin M. Jr. (1893) and Bruce Price (1895).

The Posts drifted apart, and although society frowned on divorce at that time her husband's infidelity caused the marriage to end in a divorce in 1905. She asked no alimony since there had been a small crash in the stock market in which her husband had suffered a severe financial reversal. To supplement a small income and support herself and her sons, Emily Post wrote short stories which were published in the popular fiction magazines Ainslie's and Everybody's. She also produced several novels, the first—The Flight of a Moth—about a young American widow attracted to an unscrupulous Russian nobleman, which was published in 1904.

As a successful writer and a woman of social position she was encouraged by an editor at Funk and Wagnalls publishers to write a book on etiquette. Emphasizing the social graces, she wrote Etiquette—The Blue Book of Social Usage. First published in 1922, it quickly became a best seller, going through ten revisions and 89 printings and bringing her fame and fortune.

Post's guiding precept was that good manners began with consideration for the feelings of others and included good form in speech, knowledge of proper social amenities, and charm of manner. She believed that there was a right or best way to do almost everything and that that was the way that pleased the greatest number of people and offended the fewest. Before her book had been out a month readers deluged her with questions the book had not addressed, and these formed the basis of later revisions. Originally written for the newly rich who presumably wanted to live, entertain, and converse like the wealthy, the heroine of later editions was "Mrs. Three-In-One, " a wonder woman who performed the functions of cook, waitress, and charming hostess at small, informal dinner parties without a maid. Post also started a syndicated column of questions and answers which appeared in 150 newspapers and received as many as 26, 000 letters annually at her New York office in addition to those sent to newspapers in other cities. During the 1930s she had her own radio program three times weekly which continued for eight years.

Although her advice on social behavior changed over the years, her Victorian upbringing made her reluctant to part, in later editions of the book, with the chaperone. She adhered to an earlier convention that considered it improper to visit a man alone in his apartment or to go on overnight automobile trips. Her "Blue Book, " which was the American standard of etiquette for decades, was reported to be second only to the Bible as the book most often not returned or stolen from libraries.

Emily Post maintained her social position, travelled extensively in Europe, and always spent the hot summer months away from New York City at a home in Tuxedo Park, New York (designed and built by her father) and later in life at Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, in a summer home she remodelled. Besides her writings on etiquette, she wrote The Emily Post Cook Book (1951); The Personality of a House (1930), partly based on her experiences rebuilding and remodeling her summer home at Martha's Vineyard; Children Are People (1940), much of it derived from hours she spent with her grandson; How To Behave Though a Debutante (1928); and other books. In 1946 she formed the Emily Post Institute to study problems of gracious living and relinquished a great deal of her work to the staff of the institute, headed by her surviving son, Edwin.

She remained active throughout her life, awakening early, but remaining in bed to devote time to letters and the daily column. She always made her first appearance of the day at luncheon, which was served promptly at one. The arbiter of American etiquette, whose name became a household word, died in her New York apartment on September 25, 1960, at the age of 86.

Further Reading

A book about her adult life, Truly Emily Post (1961), is a warm and sentimental remembrance written by her son Edwin. A biography appears in Notable American Women: The Modern Period (1980). Among many articles, see James Cate, "Keeping Posted, " Univ. of Chicago Mag. (May/June 1972); Hildegarde Dolson, "Ask Mrs. Post, " Reader's Digest (April 1941); and Newsweek (April 25, 1955 and October 10, 1960). Her obituary appeared in the New York Times on September 27, 1960. □

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Post, Emily

Emily Post

Born: October 3, 1873
Baltimore, Maryland
Died: September 25, 1960
New York, New York

American author

For many years a leading authority on socially correct behavior, Emily Post provided solutions to social problems. With a name that became linked with proper manners in the minds of many, she was a successful author, newspaper columnist, and radio broadcaster.

Privileged childhood

Born into a wealthy family in Baltimore, Maryland, Emily Price's birth date is variously reported as October 3, 27, or 30, 1873. She was the only child of Bruce Price, an architect, and Josephine Lee Price. Growing up in an era of servants and chaperones (older people who accompany younger people to social gatherings to make sure they behave), Emily was educated at home and attended a finishing school (a school that prepares girls for social life) in New York, New York, where her family had moved. She also traveled to Canada, France, and Italy with her father, often going with him to check on the progress of the buildings he had designed. She married Edwin Main Post, a banker, in 1892, and they had two sons.

Begins writing

Emily Post and her husband drifted apart, and his cheating caused the marriage to end in a divorce in 1905. She asked for no money from him since he had lost almost everything in a stock market crash. To add to her small income and support herself and her sons, Post began writing short stories that were published in the popular fiction magazines Ainslie's and Everybody's. She also produced wrote several novels. The first, The Flight of a Moth (1904), was about a young American widow attracted to a crooked Russian nobleman.

As a successful writer and a woman of social position, Post was encouraged by an editor at the Funk and Wagnalls publishing company to write a book on etiquette (proper social behavior). EtiquetteThe Blue Book of Social Usage, first published in 1922, quickly became a best-seller, bringing her fame and fortune.

Etiquette expert

Post's guiding belief was that good manners began with consideration for the feelings of others and included good form in speech, knowledge of proper social graces, and charm. She believed that the best way to do almost anything was the way that pleased the greatest number of people and offended the fewest. Before her book had been out a month, readers bombarded her with questions the book had not addressed, and these formed the basis of later versions of the book.

Etiquette was originally written for the newly rich who wanted to live, entertain, and speak like the wealthy. The focus of later versions of the book, however, was the character of "Mrs. Three-In-One," a wonder woman who acted as cook, waitress, and charming hostess at small dinner parties. Post also started a column of questions and answers that appeared in 150 newspapers and received as many as twenty-six thousand letters a year at her New York office and more at newspapers in other cities. During the 1930s she appeared three times a week on her own radio program, which continued for eight years.

Although Post's advice on social behavior changed over the years, even in later versions of the book she refused to give up the idea of the chaperone. She also maintained an earlier belief that it was improper for a woman to visit a man alone in his apartment or to go on overnight automobile trips. Her "Blue Book," which was the American standard of etiquette for years, was reported to be second only to the Bible as the book most often stolen from libraries.

Later years

Emily Post maintained her social position, traveled in Europe, and always spent the summer months away from New York City at a home in Tuxedo Park, New York (designed and built by her father), and later in life at Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. She wrote other books besides her writings on etiquette, including: The Emily Post Cook Book (1951); The Personality of a House (1930), partly based on her experiences rebuilding and remodeling her summer home at Martha's Vineyard; and Children Are People (1940), much of which came from hours time she spent with her grandson. In 1946 she formed the Emily Post Institute, headed by her son Edwin, to study problems the issues of gracious living.

Emily Post remained active throughout her life, awakening early, but remaining in bed to devote time to letters and her daily column. She always made her first appearance of the day at lunch, which was served promptly at one o'clock. The expert on American etiquette, whose name became a household word, died in her New York apartment on September 25, 1960, at the age of eighty-six.

For More Information

Cate, James. "Keeping Posted." University of Chicago Magazine (May/June 1972).

Dolson, Hildegarde. "Ask Mrs. Post." Reader's Digest (April 1941).

Post, Peggy. Emily Post's Etiquette. 16th edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

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Post, Emily Price

Emily Price Post, 1872–1960, American authority on etiquette, b. Baltimore. Born into a wealthy family, Post began her literary career as a novelist. Her best-known book, however, is Etiquette (1922), a practical guide to proper social behavior, written in a lively style. Etiquette gained wide popularity and sold more than a million copies. Emily Post broadcast on the radio after 1931 and produced a daily column on good taste that was syndicated in more than 150 newspapers. Also an authority on interior decoration, she wrote The Personality of a House (1930).

See biography by L. Claridge (2008).

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"Post, Emily Price." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Post, Emily Price." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/post-emily-price