A Lesson in Edwardian Etiquette

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

Twentieth_century_culture_and_deportment,_or,_The_lady_and_gentleman_at_home_and_abroad_-_containing_rules_of_etiquette_for_all_occasions_(1899)_(14799121073)One way to better understand the Edwardian era is to study the etiquette and manners of the time. For BYU’s production of Misalliance, learning the etiquette of the time period has been very important. Proper Edwardian etiquette is one of the main things that helps both the actors and the audience go back to 1909, England.

For those of you who are looking to improve your early 20th century manners, here is a very brief lesson on Edwardian Etiquette from Etiquette for Women: A Book of Modern Modes and Manners by “One of the Aristocracy”:

Introductions

  • “It is necessary, before introducing two persons, to find out if such an introduction would be pleasing to both of them, in any case you should say to the lady, either “May I introduce Mr. Low to you?” or, “Allow me to introduce Mr. Smith to you,” when making an introduction. Never introduce a lady to a gentleman or a superior to an inferior.”
  • “When a gentleman and a lady are introduced both bow, but do not shake hands.”

Acceptance of Invitations

  • “After you have been invited to a ball or a dinner, or a reception, whether the invitation has been accepted or not, you should pay a visit of ceremony to your hostess within a week or ten days.”
  • “This sort of invitation should be answered in the third person, thus– “Miss — has much pleasure in accepting Mr. and Mrs. Dash’s kind invitation to dinner on May the 30th.”

When Eating

  • “…let me remark at once that, except for soup or ice pudding, a spoon should be but rarely made use of– never if you can manage to do without it: a fork should be used whenever possible.”
  • “In answering a servant who offers you things at a dinner-party it is necessary to answer quickly, distinctly, yet softly, that conversation may not be interrupted.”
  • “The correct way to eat curry is with a spoon and fork.”
  • “Do not begin to eat your meat until you have the various vegetables and sauces handed to you. When you have finished with you knife and fork, lay them side by side on your plate– the knife the right side up, the fork with the points turned up.”

Make sure to check back for more tips and tricks to improve your etiquette!


Reference:

A Book of Edwardian Etiquette: being a facsimile reprint of Etiquette for Women: A Book of Modern Modes and Manners by “One of the Aristocracy”, published by C. Arthur Pearson Ltd in London in 1902. George Allen & Unwin Ltd: London. Originally published 1902. Facsimile published 1983.

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