02/15/2005: Tripping on Trivia Answer
Trivia follow-up Question In reference to Lillie Langtry: What were P.B's (and NO they don't go with Jelly); and Can you name a few??
In the late 1800's and early 1900's in English society, Beauty was essential in a woman, conversation desirable, piano-playing optional. The best female guests managed all three....and a select few were called "Professional Beauties" or P.B.'s.
A Punch Magazine at the time describes two matrons at a piano performance:
First matron: "Do your daughters play, Mrs. Jones."
Mrs. Jones: "No."
Mrs. Jones: "No."
Matron: "paint in water colors?"
"No," replies Mrs. Jones with a smile, "We go in for beauty."
Gwendolyn: "Uncle George says every woman ought to have a profession, and I think he's quite right."
Mama: "Indeed! And what professions do you mean to choose.?"
Gwendolyn: I mean to be a Professional Beauty."
The "Professional Beauties" (numbering about a dozen or so) traveled in these rarified circles of the same 200 governing familes in England, the most coveted being an invite into the Prince of Wales' own Marlborough House Set parties. One description of the day held that "to make a ball successful, three men should always be asked for every lady - one to dance with, one to eat with, and one to stare - that makes everything go off well."
The P.B.'s were the creme-de-la-creme, and Graphic Magazine (of London) said:
" She does everything (as if) the wings of Mercury were attached to her...She is a sportswoman, an athlete, a ballroom divinity, a horsewoman, a huntress, a bold and skillful swimmer, she drives a pair of horses like a charioteer, plays lawn tennis, is at home on the race course or the deck of a fast yacht, she has all the dining refinements, is brilliant at a supper party, wields a bow as well as a billiard cue and an etching needle..."
What a Woman!!! Photos of the P.B.'s sold for a penny-a-piece to the public in fashionable shops.
Several most famous P.B.'s included Lillie Langtry, Lady Randolph Churchill (Jennie Jerome...Winston Churchill's mother), and Lady Cornwallis-West (who's son, George Cornwallis-West, became Jennie's second husband.)
Karen on 02.15.05 @ 03:21 AM CST