Hannah Rothschild: when my 'nouveau riche' family were big spenders

The famous banking clan wanted to impress, the novelist recalls at online literary event


The novelist Hannah Rothschild recalled how her “nouveau riche” family a century ago had to spend to “make it big in English society”.

Unable to join the local hunt, the members of the famous banking clan “set up their own hounds that hunted from whacking great houses” she told the Hay Digital Festival, an online version of the annual books event that takes place in the Welsh border town

But they were not only trying to impress the neighbours.

“They had to outwealth each other,” the Times reported her as saying. “So each time a Rothschild built a new house it had to be a bit bigger, so you end up with six or seven of these massive houses in the Vale of Aylesbury.”

Recalling a dinner she and her father, Lord Rothschild, had with a wealthy man from the Gulf who was proud of his house which had belonged to a relative of the Queen, she said he had “stuffed it full of very grand pictures. I remember looking at my dad and saying ‘Well that must have been what it was like to go and visit the Rothschilds a hundred years ago because we were exactly the same’.”

Her last novel, The House of Trelawney, described by the JC as “a satire on wealth”, tells of a aristrocratic family in the early 21st century in dire financial straits.

But she believed the idea of “a dusty earl living in a huge pile outside Exeter” had gone, the Times reported.

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