When you cherished Downton Abbey, HBO’s The Gilded Age might be already in your radar. Created by Downton‘s Julian Fellowes, the historic drama depicts the lives of excessive society in late-1800s New York Metropolis. So, is the brand new present based on a true story, or is it pure fiction? Whereas the characters are completely fictional, the setting and period the story explores positively shouldn’t be.

What Was The Gilded Age?

The previous few many years of the 1800s had been coined “The Gilded Age.” Generally, the period was marked by the speedy development of business, an inflow of European working-class immigrants, and rising wealth inequality. In consequence, railroads and associated industries exploded, labor accidents rose sharply, and trusts started forming, resulting in developments just like the rise of labor unions and anti-trust legal guidelines.

With the big development of the American financial system got here the rise of the commercial elite. It additionally made leaders of those new industries wildly wealthy. Coined “new cash,” these newly rich households lacked social pedigree however tried to make up for it with huge, extreme shows of wealth. Some tried to interrupt into the closed circles of American excessive society, whereas others headed throughout the Atlantic.

The “Buccaneers,” a phrase coined by writer Edith Wharton, had been younger girls from rich American households who sought out titled British husbands, lots of whom desperately wanted an inflow of money to avoid wasting their floundering property holdings. If you watched Downton Abbey, you’ve got seen a fictionalization of this development with Cora Crawley, an American heiress who married a British aristocrat.

The moniker “Gilded Age” got here from a Mark Twain guide, The Gilded Age: A Story of As we speak. In it, Twain and co-author Charles Dudley Warner in contrast the present scenario in America to “gilding,” which is a course of through which a skinny layer of gold is utilized over another, much less invaluable materials to offer the looks of luxurious and wealth. Equally, they argued, the previous few many years of the 1800s had been a interval of great issues masked over with a “gilding” of financial growth — however just for only a few elite.

Is HBO’s The Gilded Age About Actual Individuals?

The Gilded Age takes the identical strategy in depicting its period, unsurprisingly, as Downton Abbey did: utilizing utterly fictionalized characters to symbolize archetypes of the age. Relatively than portraying precise historic figures, the present creates its personal characters who match into the teams of actual society on the time: the old-money socialites from centuries-old society households, the social-climbing industrial barons, and so forth.tmp_IsycFN_51a01f956d8248af_harry-richardson-louisa-jacobson-taissa-farmiga.jpg

As an illustration, one of many major households within the HBO collection is the Van Rhijn household, a well-established elite household amongst New York society descended from Dutch immigrants a number of generations in the past. In actual life, fairly just a few “elite” households got here from Dutch heritage, such because the Schuylers (sure, those in Hamilton) and the Roosevelts. Then again, the fictional Van Rhijns are lower than happy with their new neighbors, the Russells, who’ve simply come into their cash via the railroad enterprise. The battle between the “flashy” new cash and the “dignified” outdated society was a serious supply of stress through the real-life Gilded Age and clearly served as inspiration for Fellowes in writing the collection.

“[The settled families] had been extra modest. They had been dwelling in homes in Washington Sq. that weren’t huge. They lived respectable lives, and that was New York society at the time,” Fellowes defined to Leisure Weekly. “However for the brand new arrivals, that wasn’t sufficient for them. They wished to do one thing greater and higher. They began to construct these palaces on Fifth Avenue and progressively pushed additional north. So that you had these nice rivalries between the brand new households and the outdated.”

This actual historical past underpins the drama of The Gilded Age, and we will not wait to see the way it all performs out!


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