Emily Post was my great-great-grandmother. That's one too many greats for me to have known her personally, but I've made up for it through family stories, books, photos and news articles about her. This series of posts I'll be doing, always in the "Emily: Up Close" category, will introduce Emily Post to you as her world knew her and as her family knew her.
Let's start with a little joke Emily pulled on her public. The first edition of her best-seller Etiquette was first published in 1922. In the late 1920's what appeared to be a spoof of Etiquette--and it's author--appeared in a series of articles in Vanity Fair. Called How to Behave Though a Debutante, it was a satire of the flapper generation. Muriel, the main character, is heard saying, "Really, I'm getting fed up with this continual criticism about the behavior of me and my friends, because we think most rules of etiquette perfectly antique--and collecting antiques is no thrill to us at all." Everyone thought Emily was being roasted.
In 1928, the series was published as a book, and the author's name was cleverly presented on the title page: "Opinions by Muriel, As Overheard by Emily Post."
A profile of her that ran in The New Yorker shortly after Debutante was published described her as "a link between two worlds". This sums up nicely how she could believe in the importance of Etiquette, and still have such remarkable insight into the mind of a twenty-something girl. Emily didn't do this to make fun of people who took her seriously; she did it because she was a smart woman who, unlike the other fifty-somethings of her generation, could still sympathize with a younger generation while believing in the end that using manners was the way to go.
PS - Debutante also had the most terrific illustrations by John Held, Jr.: