Heiresses: Users and Abusers of Their Fortunes

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Bi-weekly;  Week One;  Wednesday;  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
One Term (Fall Only); In-person **NEW**  

Imagine your life if you were born heiress to hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars. What would you do with your life? We will examine heiresses from different time periods and cultures, the sources of their fortunes, and the effects of wealth on their lives. We will investigate the privileges and the responsibilities of such fortunes and the ‘poor little rich girl’ cliché.

Over the centuries some people have taken advantage of heiresses and harmed them physically, financially or emotionally such Barbara Hutton, Doris Duke, Patty Hearst or Clare Bronfman. Other heiresses used their wealth to try to better the world (e.g., Gertrude Bell, Nancy Cunard, Isabella Stewart Gardner or Edith Wharton).

All participants will make a 20-25-minute presentation. A list of possible heiress presentation topics will be sent to participants who may also propose heiresses of their choice.


Sharon Harris (sharonlh546@gmail.com) is a long-time member of the Academy where she co-facilitated numerous workshops and held many administrative positions. After her very early retirement as an educator and photographer, Sharon has pursued her love of the arts and travel, and has enjoyed the Academy as a springboard for her curiosity.

Patti Stoll (knoxacademypatti@gmail.com) is a retired consultant, professor of management, and dean of business whose interests include the visual arts, the classics, contemporary issues, and new technologies. She’s looking forward to focusing this year on the intersection of big money, being female, and society.

Workshop Details

Workshop Notes