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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Wife introducing herself with the first name of her husband?

    Hi there!

    First of all, I'm not sure if this is the right place to put my question to, so bear with me if it's not.

    If have a pretty specific question: I'm currently reading Atlas Shrugged and I got stuck on a the line "I'm Mrs. William Hastings". For me, this felt like a simple spelling mistake, but a similar sentence can be found just a few chapters further back.

    I tried to Google this, but with no luck. Now, I don't know if this is just an Ayn Rand quirk (wouldn't be surprised by that :D) or if it was (or somewhere still is?) actually common for a wife/widow to introduce herself with not only the married name but also the first name of her husband?

    Can someone bring light into the darkness?

    Best regards!

  2. Moderator
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    #2

    Re: Wife introducing herself with the first name of her husband?

    The book was written in the fifties. If I remember my childhood etiquette right, "Mrs. William Hastings" was the correct name of the wife of William Hastings in those days. She would certainly introduce herself that way. She'd take grave offense if she were introduced as "Mrs. Ruth Hastings" (assuming her given name was Ruth); that would mean she was divorced, which was shameful. I thought there was yet another form of address for widows, but if there was, I can't remember it.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #3

    Re: Wife introducing herself with the first name of her husband?

    Some women with aristocratic titles in the UK use their husband's name, like Princess Michael of Kent, because she is not a full princess in her own right and can only use the title through using her husband's name.

  4. Skrej's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Wife introducing herself with the first name of her husband?

    It's still fairly common in the US for a newly married couple to be introduced to the attending crowd as "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith" by the person who officiated the wedding. Often this announcement comes after the couple shares the traditional kiss.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

  5. Member
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    #5

    Re: Wife introducing herself with the first name of her husband?

    When I started work in the early 70s we would still address letters to a couple as Mr and Mrs John Smith but a letter to Mrs Smith would be addressed to Mrs Jane Smith.

    The practice of addressing a married lady as Mrs John Smith fell out of general use during the 1960s.
    Retired magazine editor and native British English speaker - not a teacher

  6. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Wife introducing herself with the first name of her husband?

    It's still not unheard of in the US, but it becomes less and less common every decade. The practice isn't dead yet, but it's on life support.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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