Skip to main content


Vanderbilt University Professor and author Cecelia Tichi signs and speaks about her many books related to Newport and America's Gilded Age. Among Ms. Tichi's many bestselling titles for our store are Gilded Age Cocktails and What Would Mrs. Astor Do?, a guide to the mores and etiquette of the high society that ruled in Newport at the end of the 19th century.

A richly illustrated romp with America's Gilded Age leisure class--and those angling to join it

Mark Twain called it the Gilded Age. Between 1870 and 1900, the United States' population doubled, accompanied by an unparalleled industrial expansion, and an explosion of wealth unlike any the world had ever seen. America was the foremost nation of the world, and New York City was its beating heart. There, the richest and most influential--Thomas Edison, J. P. Morgan, Edith Wharton, the Vanderbilts, Andrew Carnegie, and more--became icons, whose comings and goings were breathlessly reported in the papers of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. It was a time of abundance, but also bitter rivalries, in work and play. The Old Money titans found themselves besieged by a vanguard of New Money interlopers eager to gain entr e into their world of formal balls, debutante parties, opera boxes, sailing regattas, and summer gatherings at Newport. Into this morass of money and desire stepped Caroline Astor.

Mrs. Astor, an Old Money heiress of the first order, became convinced that she was uniquely qualified to uphold the manners and mores of Gilded Age America. Wherever she went, Mrs. Astor made her judgments, dictating proper behavior and demeanor, men's and women's codes of dress, acceptable patterns of speech and movements of the body, and what and when to eat and drink. The ladies and gentlemen of high society took note. "What would Mrs. Astor do?" became the question every social climber sought to answer. And an invitation to her annual ball was a golden ticket into the ranks of New York's upper crust. This work serves as a guide to manners as well as an insight to Mrs. Astor's personal diary and address book, showing everything from the perfect table setting to the array of outfits the elite wore at the time. Channeling the queen of the Gilded Age herself, Cecelia Tichi paints a portrait of New York's social elite, from the schools to which they sent their children, to their lavish mansions and even their reactions to the political and personal scandals of the day.

Ceceilia Tichi invites us on a beautifully illustrated tour of the Gilded Age, transporting readers to New York at its most fashionable. A colorful tapestry of fun facts and true tales, What Would Mrs. Astor Do? presents a vivid portrait of this remarkable time of social metamorphosis, starring Caroline Astor, the ultimate gatekeeper.

Cecelia Tichi is an award-winning teacher and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English Emerita at Vanderbilt University. Her books span U.S. literature and culture from the 17th century through recent times, including a biography of Jack London and a book, “Civic Passions,” profiling seven activists in the tumultuous years of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era of the 1910s. Tichi’s books have been reviewed in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Publishers’ Weekly and elsewhere. Her work has been supported by the Rockefeller and Mellon Foundations, and she has held the Chair in Modern Culture at the Library of Congress. She has lectured widely in the U.S. and internationally from Europe to East Asia. Tichi’s research and teaching inspired What Would Mrs. Astor Do? The Essential Guide to the Manners and Mores of the Gilded Age, followed by Gilded Age Cocktails and Jazz Age Cocktails, which set the stage for her mystery crime novels—the “Val and Roddy DeVere Gilded Age Series” that boasts “Gilded” in each title—the first, “A Gilded Death,” is set in Newport in the summer of 1898.





Date: 02/24/2023
Time: 6:00pm - 7:00pm

8 Broadway
Newport, RI 02840-2938
United States