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Lady Constance Stewart Richardson: Topics in Chronicling America

In the early 20th century, Lady Constance Richardson's barefoot dancing shook the core of society. This guide provides access to material related to "Lady Constance Stewart Richardson" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

Barefoot Dance Lessons with Lady Constance Stewart Richardson. August 17, 1913. The Times Dispatch (Richmond, VA), Image 36. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

The daughter of the Earl of Cromartie, Lady Constance was a vivacious woman of many talents— including champion swimmer and big game hunter—but the role that defined her career was that of a barefoot dancer. Never one to follow norms, Lady Constance caused widespread uproar for her extravagantly revealing dance outfits, to the extent that the King of England struck her name from the royal records. And all because Lady Constance “committed the unpardonable sin of proving that the legs of an aristocrat are strikingly similar to those of a plebian." Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

July 26, 1901 16-year-old Constance wins her third gold medal in swimming and is considered the best female swimmer in England.
1902 Constance finds a love in riding horses, farming, fencing, and caring for pet boa constrictors.
March 21, 1903 Constance debuts as a barefoot dancer at a masked ball in Gezirah Palace.
April 19, 1904 Lady Constance weds Sir Edward Austin Richardson.
December, 1908 By now Constance has become an accomplished hunter with over one-hundred animal heads to show.
February 9, 1909 Constance decides to employ her dancing to raise funds toward founding a school.
January 17, 1910 Lady Constance’s professional debut in London has theatre-goers aghast at her “transparent” draperies.
January 28, 1910 Shortly after her infamous performance, Lady Constance is stricken of social rank by King Edward himself.
May 5, 1913 Constance sets her sights on Vaudeville.
January, 1915 A bronze statue of Constance is sculpted by Prince Troubetskoy and sold to aid starving Belgians.
August 30, 1921 Constance marries her second husband, Sir Denis Leckie Matthew. She leaves the words: “Every woman should learn dance, and certainly dance with as few clothes on as the law [will] allow.”