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Emily PostEmily Post

author of articles on architecture and interior design, romantic stories, and rules of etiquette

Emily Price was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 27, 1872, the only child of Bruce, a very successful architect, and Josephine Lee Price. She was educated at home by tutors and at a private finishing school. She married banker Edwin Main Post in 1892; the couple had two sons (Edwin Main Post, Jr. and Bruce Price Post) before she divorced him in 1905 due to his infidelity.

By the time Emily and Edwin were divorced he had lost most of his money in a failed business venture, so Emily did not seek spousal support. Although she still had money from her family, she chose to earn her own living and began writing articles on architecture and interior design that appeared in over one hundred newspapers across the country. She also wrote romantic stories on American and European society that were serialized in McCall's, Harper's, Scribner's, The Century, Vanity Fair, and many other national magazines. Some of those stories were subsequently published as light novels, including Flight of the Moth (1904), Purple and Fine Linen (1906), Woven in the Tapestry (1908), The Title Market (1909), and The Eagle's Feather (1910).

In 1922, Post published Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home, which quickly became a best seller. According to the book, good manners begin with consideration for the feelings of others and include 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. Originally written for the newly rich who wanted to live, entertain, and speak like the wealthy, later versions of the book focused on the character of "Mrs. Three-In-One," a wonder woman who acted as cook, waitress, and charming hostess at small dinner parties. After 1931, Post spoke on radio programs and wrote a column on good taste for the Bell Syndicate that appeared daily in over 200 newspapers. Although her rules of etiquette have changed some over the years to keep up with changing trends, she remains the standard by which all social manners are judged, and it has been reported that her etiquette book is the second-most commonly stolen book from libraries after The Bible.

Post was also the author of 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); The Emily Post Cook Book (1951). She founded The Emily Post Institute in 1946, which continues to teach etiquette today. She died in New York City on September 25, 1960.

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This page was last updated on February 10, 2017.