‘I consider it every girl’s duty to marry £80,000 a year,’ announced 17-year-old Alice Miles in 1868, during a break from the endless merry-go-round of balls, picnics and dinner parties that made up the Season. She was teasing one of her less wordly cousins, but there was deadly serious intent behind her words.

The Mileses, who had moved to Paris, were well-connected but financially stretched, so it was essential that their daughter snare a wealthy man. This real-life Becky Sharp hit London like a ribbonfestooned tornado, charming eligible bachelors and outraging their mothers. She recorded her adventures in a journal, which COUNTRY LIFE will be serialising for the next six months. Will our wily heroine’s hunt for a rich husband end in success, or will love cause her to neglect her duty?

Week 1: Arrival in London 

Week 2: Alice hits the London season

Week 3: Alice attends a society ball

Week 4: Alice makes an impression

Week 5: Alice continues to make acquintances

Week 6: Alice under scrutiny

Week 7: Alice accepts an invitation

Week 8: Alice visits a castle

Week 9: An eye-opening visit for Alice

Week 10: Sunday at church

Week 11: A day at Doncaster races

Week 12: Meeting Mr Morland Hutton

Week 13: A strange sensation

Week 14: A late night rendezvous

Week 15: A last walk with Mr Hutton

Week 16: Alice charms Mr Hutton’s friend

Week 17: Alice gets a visitor from India

Week 18: Alice charms a hero

Week 19: An interrupted kiss

Week 20: Alice faces a man ban

Week 21: A chance meeting

Week 22: A flirtatious train journey

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  • Bobbie Carnegie

    One must suppose that all that seasonal trolling around from picnics to dinner parties to balls, which some would have been rather tedious no doubt with, albeit, wealthy goggle-eyed-goons leering and drooling at every pretty gal out-and-about displaying herself – was a form of upper-crust prostitution on the pretty-gals part?