Anecdotes About High Society


Society is nothing without its chroniclers. If the rest of the world never glimpsed inside the enclave, people wouldn’t know what they were supposed to be missing. To wit: the 400 list—and its connotations of what it means to be part of New York’s elite—arose from the interest Ward McAllister created surrounding Mrs. Astor’s party. Having the guests’ names printed in the newspaper generated a concrete standard of who was considered part of the American aristocracy. And when one of these members of the noblesse turns their critical pen to their peers, we all win.

Wharton, Capote, and Wolfe are just a few of the names that gave the public at large a thorough understanding of what happens in the private lives of the wealthy and powerful. Another such a chronicler appears on page 26. Peeking out from a photo from ’87 is a young woman who had lived her life on the inside of high society, her bright eyes taking in the customs of her contemporaries, then used them to write fantastic stories about her generation’s 400. Jane Stanton Hitchcock weaves true anecdotes into her novels about high society, and the (dubiously) self-proclaimed wallflower used everything she knew about what really happens in the lives of the social set. Injecting murder into her tales, she turned social backstabbing into actual deaths that fellow social scribe Dominick Dunne said “kept him up at night.”

This issue also features Quest’s—and all of New York’s—own chronicler: David Patrick Columbia. With stories about the strictest social arbiters, the greatest grande dames, and the steepest of falls from grace, he recounts stories about the Who’s Who of cultural and philanthropic society. As creator of New York Social Diary, he sees all while being most famous for his discretion.

Thank you, David, for giving the people what they want!