Emily Post

Emily Post (née Price; c. October 27, 1872 – September 25, 1960) was an American author, novelist, and socialite, famous for writing about etiquette.

Emily Post
BornEmily Price
c. (1872-10-27)October 27, 1872
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
DiedSeptember 25, 1960(1960-09-25) (aged 87)
New York City, U.S.
Resting placeSt. Mary's-in-Tuxedo Episcopal Church Cemetery, Tuxedo Park, New York, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, Founder of The Emily Post Institute
EducationFinishing school
Edwin Main Post
(m. 1892; div. 1905)
  • Elizabeth Post (granddaughter-in-law)
  • Peggy Post (great-granddaughter-in-law)

Early life

Post was born Emily Bruce Price in Baltimore, Maryland, possibly in October 1872.[1] The precise date is unknown.[2][lower-alpha 1] Her father was the architect Bruce Price, famed for designing luxury communities. Her mother Josephine (Lee) Price of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was the daughter of a wealthy coal baron. After being educated at home in her early years, Price attended Miss Graham's finishing school in New York after her family moved there.[3]

The New York Times' Dinitia Smith reports, in her review of Laura Claridge's 2008 biography of Post,[4]

Emily was tall, pretty and spoiled. [...] She grew up in a world of grand estates, her life governed by carefully delineated rituals like the cotillion with its complex forms and its dances—the Fan, the Ladies Mocked, Mother Goose—called out in dizzying turns by the dance master.[1]

Price met her future husband, Edwin Main Post, a prominent banker, at a ball in a Fifth Avenue mansion. Following their wedding in 1892 and a honeymoon tour of Europe, they lived in New York's Washington Square. They also had a country cottage, named "Emily Post Cottage", in Tuxedo Park, which was one of four Bruce Price Cottages she inherited from her father. The couple moved to Staten Island and had two sons, Edwin Main Post Jr. (1893) and Bruce Price Post (1895).[5]

Emily and Edwin divorced in 1905 because of his affairs with chorus girls and fledgling actresses, which made him the target of blackmail.[5]


Protrait of Emily Post by Emil Fuchs in the Brooklyn Museum

Post began to write once her two sons were old enough to attend boarding school. Her early work included humorous travel books, newspaper articles on architecture and interior design, and magazine serials for Harper's, Scribner's, and The Century. She wrote five novels: Flight of a Moth (1904), Purple and Fine Linen (1905), Woven in the Tapestry (1908), The Title Market (1909), and The Eagle's Feather (1910).[3] In 1916, she published By Motor to the Golden Gate—a recount of a road trip she made from New York to San Francisco with her son Edwin and another companion.[6]

Post wrote her first etiquette book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (1922, frequently referenced as Etiquette) when she was 50.[1] It became a best-seller with numerous editions over the following decades.[7] After 1931, Post spoke on radio programs and wrote a column on good taste for the Bell Syndicate. The column appeared daily in over 200 newspapers after 1932.[8]

In her review of Claridge's 2008 biography of Post,[4] The New York Times' Dinitia Smith explains the keys to Post's popularity:[1]

Such books had always been popular in America: the country’s exotic mix of immigrants and newly rich were eager to fit in with the establishment. Men had to be taught not to blow their noses into their hands or to spit tobacco onto ladies’ backs. Arthur M. Schlesinger, who wrote “Learning How to Behave: A Historical Study of American Etiquette Books” in 1946, said that etiquette books were part of “the leveling-up process of democracy,” an attempt to resolve the conflict between the democratic ideal and the reality of class. But Post’s etiquette books went far beyond those of her predecessors. They read like short-story collections with recurring characters, the Toploftys, the Eminents, the Richan Vulgars, the Gildings and the Kindharts.

In 1946, Post founded The Emily Post Institute, which continues her work.


Post died in her New York City apartment in 1960 at the age of 87.[8] She is buried in the cemetery at St. Mary's-in-Tuxedo Episcopal Church in Tuxedo Park, New York.

Cultural legacy

A portrait of Emily Post by Emil Fuchs (ca. 1906) is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.[9]

Frank Tashlin featured Post's caricature emerging from her etiquette book and scolding England's King Henry VIII about his lack of manners in the cartoon Have You Got Any Castles? (1938).

Pageant in 1950 named her the second most powerful woman in America, after Eleanor Roosevelt.[1]

On May 28, 1998, the United States Postal Service issued a 32¢ stamp featuring Post as part of their Celebrate the Century stamp sheet series.[10]

In 2008 Laura Claridge published Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners, the first full-length biography of the author.[11]

See also


  1. Primary documents conflict with the birthdate she usually gave, October 27, 1872. The burial records of her brother, William Lee Price, who died in infancy, give his dates as April 18, 1873 to December 6, 1875. But he can't have been born five months and 21 days after his sister. That she was born six months after him is equally unlikely. So something is awry, and it's unresolvable from primary records. However, it seems less likely that a contemporary burial record of a two-year-old got his birth year wrong than that an adult used an erroneous birth date.[2]


  1. Smith, Dinitia (October 16, 2008). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES: She Fine-Tuned the Forks of the Richan Vulgars". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  2. Claridge, Laura (2008). Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners. Random House. p. 16. ISBN 9780375509216.
  3. Greenberg, Brian; Watts, Linda S.; Greenwald, Richard A.; Reavley, Gordon; George, Alice L.; Beekman, Scott; Bucki, Cecelia; Ciabattari, Mark; Stoner, John C.; Paino, Troy D.; Mercier, Laurie; Hunt, Andrew; Holloran, Peter C.; Cohen, Nancy (October 23, 2008). Social History of the United States [10 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598841282. Archived from the original on May 5, 2022. Retrieved December 10, 2020 via Google Books.
  4. Claridge, Laura (2008). Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners. Random House.
  5. Claridge, Laura (2008). Emily Post. New York: Random House. pp. 3–5, 165–70. ISBN 978-0-375-50921-6.
  6. Post, Emily (1916). By Motor to the Golden Gate. New York and London: D. Appleton and Company.
  7. "Emily Post". InfoPlease. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  8. "Emily Post Is Dead Here at 86; Writer Was Arbiter of Etiquette". The New York Times. September 27, 1960. Archived from the original on May 5, 2022. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  9. "Brooklyn Museum". www.brooklynmuseum.org. Archived from the original on July 22, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  10. "Women Subjects on United States Postage Stamps". USPS. July 2021. Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  11. Kolbert, Elizabeth (October 20, 2008). "Place Settings". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved January 25, 2016.

Further reading

  • Claridge, Laura. Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners (Random House, 2008), a standard biography
  • Gale, Robert L. "Post, Emily" American National Biography (1999) online, a short scholarly biography
  • Hall, Dennis. "Modern and Postmodern Wedding Planners: Emily Post's" Etiquette in Society"(1937) and Blum & Kaiser's" Weddings for Dummies"(1997)." Studies in Popular Culture 24.3 (2002): 37-48. online
  • Myers, Nancy. "Rethinking Etiquette: Emily Post’s Rhetoric of Social Self-Reliance for American Women." in Rhetoric, History, and Women's Oratorical Education (Routledge, 2013), pp 189–207.
  • Post, Edwin M. Truly Emily Post (1961), a standard biography
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