Sisters of Fortune

Jehanne Wake Sisters of Fortune USA edition
Sisters of Fortune - USA
front cover

The first American heiresses to cross the Atlantic Marianne, Bess, Louisa, and Emily Caton were descended from the first settlers in Maryland, and brought up by their grandfather Charles Carroll, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

These Catholic Southern belles were expected to 'marry a Plantation'. But they were independent, fascinated by politics, clever with money, romantic in mood.

In London, Marianne, Bess and Louisa forged their own destinies in the face of intense prejudice, against both Americans and Catholics. Marianne's sister-in-law Betsy ended up married to Napoleon's younger brother Joseph, to the Emperor's fury, and found herself abandoned in Paris.

Marianne Caton eventually married the Duke of Wellington’s elder brother the Marquess Wellesley and became the first American lady in waiting to Queen Adelaide.


Sisters of Fortune
UK front cover

Bess Caton used her social position to speculate successfully on the stock market.

Louisa Caton eventually became the first American Duchess of Leeds and a friend of Queen Victoria.

Emily Caton only ever wanted to stay at home in Maryland, running the large family houses.

Based on intimate unpublished letters this book explores the love between sisters and Anglo-American relations in the nineteenth century. It is also a story of money, of the power it gave these women, particularly over the men in their lives, and how it shaped social and even international relations round them.

USA Publication: Touchstone April 2011

See Reviews

Kleinwort Benson, The History of Two Families in Banking

Jehanne Wake Kleinwort Benson The history of two families in banking
Kleinwort Benson, The
History of Two Families in

Jehanne was given unrestricted access to the bank's archives and staff and has drawn upon a wealth of original sources to furnish this lively and readable history of the members of two banking dynasties and their boardroom successors.

The story is as much a human drama as a financial history telling of the families with whom they married and formed partnerships, the book evokes their feuds and friendships, their successes and failures, set against the background of more than two hundred years of social and business history.

It covers the medieval beginnings in Holstein and the Lake District to Hamburg, Cuba, and Liverpool, before arriving in the 1850s in London. There they founded two very different merchant banks, which merged in 1967 to create Kleinwort Benson Lonsdale, later Kleinwort Benson.

The Kleinwort Benson story mirrors both the spectacular growth of English capital and its often turbulent side-effects.

UK Publication: Oxford University Press 1997

USA Publication: Oxford University Press 1997

See Reviews

Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s Unconventional Daughter

Jehanne Wake Princess Louise, Queen Victoria
Princess Louise, Queen
Victoria's Unconventional

Princess Louise was Queen Victoria’s sixth child and her most independent daughter. Born in 1848, her long and eventful life spanned almost a century of violently changing social and political history. She died on the outbreak of World War II.

She was a talented artist and sculptor who attended art school at a time when such a thing was unheard of for a young royal woman.

She was a protofeminist who smoked, had a genuine impulse to help others, and possessed both a sharp tongue and a sense of humour.

She was also the first daughter of a sovereign to marry a commoner, the Marquis of Lorne, and live in Canada when he became Governor General in 1878-1883. His appointment allowed her to travel extensively there and in the American Wild West.

UK Publication: Harper Collins 1998

See Reviews

You are here: Books