The Cultural Work of the Late Nineteenth-Century Hostess explores the influence upper-class, socially engaged women had on literary and political culture in the U.S. and in England in the years 1870-1920. Annie Fields, an American, was first married to James T. Fields, a prominent Boston publisher; after his death she became companion to Sarah Orne Jewett, one of the foremost New England writers. Mary Gladstone was a daughter of William Gladstone, one of Great Britain's most famous Prime Ministers. Both became well known as hostesses, entertaining the leading figures of their day; both also kept journals and wrote letters in which they recorded those figures' conversations. Susan K. Harris reads these records to exhibit the impact such women had on the cultural life of their times and to show how the skills acquired as hostesses in the 19th century facilitated their entry into the public arena in the 20th. The Cultural Work of the Late Nineteenth-Century Hostess shows how Fields and Gladstone negotiated alliances, won over key figures to their parties' designs, and fought to develop major cultural institutions ranging from the Organization of Boston Charities to London's Royal College of Music.