Matrimony, Inc.

Matrimony, Inc.: From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love by Francesca Beauman

Published:  October 2020 – Pegasus Books

ARC courtesy of Wunderkind PR

Description: (content from the publicist) Scroll down for my review!
Did you know?
  • The first personal ad in America ran in the Boston Evening Post in 1759.


  • California’s first personal ads were placed by women.


  • America’s most prolific female serial killer, Belle Gunness, found her victims through ads.


  • One of the strangest ads Francesca discovered was from 1903 in The New York Times: “Young man, moderate circumstances, and who has glass eye, would like to form the acquaintance of young girl who also has a glass eye or some other deformity not more severe…”


  • From the beginning, nearly all American personal ads mentioned money.


  • Advertising for love has been uniquely affected by time and place, but has also received criticism in nearly every format, despite being around for hundreds of years!
MATRIMONY, INC.: From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love (Pegasus Books; October 6, 2020; $27.95) details how the search for love, and preferences for a partner, has changed (and how much has stayed the same) over the last 250 years. Francesca brilliantly ties together key moments in history to give context to the ads of the day, providing a stunning look at how personal ads helped shape our society.


Francesa Beauman spent years scrolling old newspapers to bring these little-known gems to light, and is a champion for women’s history: her family bookstore, Persephone Books in London, reprints neglected work by 20th century women writers and is a fan-favorite of Lena Dunham and Benedict Cumberbatch!

Praise for Matrimony, Inc.

“Lively… She [Beauman] is a companionable and witty narrator and an excellent curator of primary source material. History buffs will be entertained.”
Publishers Weekly


“Ever since there were newspapers there were personal ads. Reading them is a peek into the romantic hopes and dreams of people who felt the desire to reach out in this public way. Francesca’s book gives us a window into the history of the U.S. and the politics of how marriage shaped this country.  Fascinating, just like Francesca.”
Joey Soloway, creator of Transparent


“Who among us hasn’t been a voyeur of the personal ad? Francesca Beauman’s deep historical dive into a person’s most naked ask into the universe is hilarious and shocking and heartbreaking, and reveals through these incredible finds how the needs and expectations of what we look for in a mate have evolved, and what has stubbornly remained the same. You won’t be able to hear the phrase “swipe right” quite the same way again.”

Kathryn Hahn, actor

About the author:

After a decade as a T.V. host, Francesca Beauman is now a writer, historian and part-time bookseller at London’s most beautiful bookstore, Persephone Books. Francesca is the author of six books, including a history of the pineapple and a history of British personal ads. She also runs the popular book forum “Fran’s Book Shop” (@fransbookshop).

Connect with Fran! Author Website // Instagram // Twitter // Fran’s Book Shop

My take:  Matrimony, Inc. is a look at how people have met their match in America almost from the beginning. Author Francesca Beauman’s subtle wit sets the tone as she takes readers from early days in the country’s history to current time. The book is filled with facts, figures and anecdotes. Personal ads run from the extremely plain to the highly imaginative – all with the same intention: to find a person to marry. Readers with a casual interest in the socio-economic history of the US will find nuggets of data based on the population’s spread to the West through the 19th century. Overall, an interesting book.