This chapter discusses the part played by the Parisian salons in the professional lives and self-esteem of British writers. Valuing admission to these intimate cosmopolitan circles, which they regarded as quintessentially Parisian, the British nevertheless distrusted the worldliness of an ambience which valued talent and wit above virtue. Since good conversation was essential, some feared for their lack of facility in French. Although this period witnessed the salons’ decline, the gatherings held by George Sand, or resident British hostesses, such as Madame Mohl or Lady Elgin. afforded good copy for the home market. The chapter finishes by arguing that this social space, choreographed by women, established networks extending beyond Europe, and encouraged the idea of literature as performance.
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