Houses Divided: Windsors, Vanderbilts and 1930s England


On this new tour, step back into the elegant drawing rooms and picturesque castles of 1930s England with bestselling author Bryn Turnbull. Our tour will explore the world of Thelma Morgan Furness, protagonist of Bryn’s novel The Woman Before Wallis. Wife of a viscount, lover of Edward VIII and twin sister to Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, Thelma was part of a transatlantic high society where the martinis flowed and the scandals were even more plentiful.



As much as these scandals were fodder for party gossip, they expose deeper issues for us to explore. Edward’s relationship with Thelma’s friend Wallis Simpson and Gloria’s custody battle for her young daughter raised questions about social and political power, sexuality, and expectations for women. Edward VIII’s affairs were not just a family scandal, they had real political ramifications.

Through our discussions, excursions and walking tours, gain a deeper understanding of 1930s England in all its complexity — the glamorous hotels and clubs; innovations in literature, architecture and music; scandals and power struggles in the royal family; political unrest and the looming shadow of WWII.


Bryn Turnbull is a bestselling author of historical fiction. Her debut novel, The Woman Before Wallis, is at the centre of our tour. She wrote about about imperial Russia in her second novel, The Last Grand Duchess and she has a new novel, The Paris Deception, out now. She has a BA in English from McGill and an MLitt from the University of St. Andrews.

Melanie Blake is the executive director of Classical Pursuits. She studied English and French literature at Fordham University and the Université de Montpellier and linguistics at the University of Nottingham. She has travelled widely in North America, Europe and Asia, and has led Classical Pursuits trips in France, Belgium, Italy, Colombia and Mexico.

Ready to Book?

To learn more or book your spot, email Ivan at or call toll-free 1-800-387-1483.

Image credits: Can Pac Swire on Flickr


Get a detailed itinerary

Windsor and London, England

May 6 – 12, 2024

US$4995 per person based on double occupancy
US$1,300 single supplement

Castle Hotel, Windsor

14 to 16 participants

The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

Cost includes guides, readings, accommodation in double occupancy, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, admissions, and taxes and gratuities.

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