MONEY deals

This Week’s Best Deals: Tax Day Freebies, Game of Thrones Box Set

Game of Thrones Season 5
Helen Sloan—HBO Game of Thrones Season 5

It's become an annual tradition for restaurants and office supply stores to give out freebies on April 15, a.k.a. Tax Day. There's a big sale on high-end, rarely discounted cookware too.

They’re among the best deals we’ve spotted this week. Here are our top choices for bargains:

Get Reading

Finally, Game of Thrones returned to TV this weekend with its season premiere on HBO, but fantasy fanatics can delve even deeper into the world of George R. R. Martin with a killer deal on a box set of books. Walmart currently offers books one through five of the Song of Ice and Fire series in paperback for $10.20 with in-store pickup, the lowest price you’ll likely ever pay for this collection of salacious, murderous, and completely addictive stories.

Dig Some DIY Discounts

Spring, too, seems to be making a return, which means homeowners will soon be turning their attention to their lawn and patio. If your grass is in a sorry state, pick up this bag of Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed while it’s half off. It might not seem like a thrilling purchase. But at $19.87 with pickup at Walmart, it’ll save you $20 that could be spent on something more fun — like brats for the BBQ. Alternatively, tackle any other DIY project you’ve been putting off over the winter by taking an easy $10 off $50 Lowe’s purchases; just click here, scroll to the bottom of the page, and sign up for email alerts to receive a unique code.

Invest in High-End Cookware

The famously high-quality brand All-Clad is normally too expensive for many people, but shopping the VIP Factory Seconds Sale — in which items with minor cosmetic blemishes or dents are marked up to 64% off — is an excellent way to score All-Clad at a fraction of the usual price. (Enter code “ALLCLADVIP” to view the sale.) It’s the best such sale we’ve seen from All-Clad since January. If you’re hesitant about the quality of the wares, know that each item still carries a full lifetime warranty. Hurry, though, as this sale ends on April 15.

Celebrate Tax Day Freebies

The biggest deal event of the week will come on Wednesday, April 15. Once you drop your tax return in the mail, relax with a wealth of Tax Day freebies to soothe your soul. Offers range from freebies that require no purchase at all, like a free
cookie at Great American Cookies
to discounted meals, free desserts with purchase, or “buy one, get one free” entrees (like at Boston Market). Keep in mind that almost all of these offers will only be valid on April 15, so plan accordingly. For a regularly updated list of the latest Tax Day freebies, click here.

Amazing bargains pop up at any given moment, so check out the DealNews Editors’ Choice page for the most recent offers, or sign up for a daily email digest sent directly to your inbox.

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Shuts Down Another Harry Potter Rumor

This time it's about a supposed sex scene

J.K. Rowling shut down a rumor on Monday that she wanted Harry Potter to lose his virginity in the book, The Goblet of Fire.

A Twitter user posted a suggestion that Rowling had planned on adding in a sex scene in the second part of the book, but left it out after an editor complained it would bother parents. Rowling responded that she never wrote the scene, calling it “a load of cobblers.” The Twitter message that appeared to start the rumor included an image attributed to a blog, but the owner of the blog later said the image was a fake and not associated with his site.

It’s not the first time Rowling has responded to rumors from readers. Rowling is very active on social media, frequently answering her fans questions and making announcements about her future work.

She made TIME’s 30 Most Influential People on the Internet list for 2015.

Read next: What J.K. Rowling Said About Writing More Harry Potter Books

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME remembrance

How Günter Grass Acknowledged His Controversial Past

April 13, 1970, cover of TIME
Cover Credit: ISADORE SELTZER Gunter Grass on the April 13, 1970, cover of TIME

The author has died at 87

Günter Grass—the German writer who died on Monday at 87—was known for much of his life for the success of his books, for his Nobel Prize, for his defining place in the conflicted cultural world of the divided post-war Germany. In later years,his admission that he had served in the Waffen-SS and his publication of a poem critical of Israel changed his reputation.

As an April 13, 1970, TIME cover story about the author—dated precisely 45 years before his death—pointed out, Grass had made his name partially for his willingness to blur the line between art and politics, a line that had been strictly observed by traditional German literature. In the West Germany of the time, he was an outspoken supporter of Willy Brandt; his work was often seen as an admonition to those who would sweep the country’s past under the rug in the name of moving forward. “He too has done his demonic best to break up all the going German rhythms, from the marching-to-destiny beat of Deutschland über Alles to the amnesiac waltz of postwar prosperity,” the piece said, comparing him to the protagonist of his most famous work, The Tin Drum. “In three war novels he has drummed: Remember! Remember! REMEMBER!”

Even then, Grass did not deny that he was involved with the Nazi party during the war. And as the article laid out, he was a true believer, not merely going along to get along:

Grass has succinctly outlined his own journey into that nightmare: “At the age of ten, I was a member of the Hitler Cubs; when I was 14, I was enrolled in the Hitler Youth. At 15, I called myself an Air Force auxiliary. At 17, I was in the armored infantry.” Grass left Danzig as a soldier in 1944. He was wounded on April 20, 1945, and the end of the war found him in a hospital bed at Marienbad. He was one of the first Germans to be marched through Dachau for a whiff of what the infernal was really like. He has not forgotten.

…Call those the live-or-die years. Grass characters are nothing if not survival artists, and Grass survived. He estimates that 80% of the Danzig he knew was bombed out. He had to abandon, naturally, the patriotic ideology he once held as a self-styled “dutiful youth.” Like Mahlke, the schoolboy hero of Cat and Mouse, he once could identify most German warships by class. Unlike Mahlke, Grass admits: “I myself was thinking right up to the end in 1945 that our war was the right war.”

How did a grocer’s son from Danzig ever put together the nerve, the innocence, the cold fury, the sheer talent to play tin drummer to the most traumatic decade in modern history? The general pattern was one of slow maturing and lots of retreat time in the desert—the training rules of artists and saints.

At the time, despite that past, his intellectual evolution earned him a comparison to a saint; his political stance allowed the world to see him as an example of how the nation could properly acknowledge and progress from its Nazi past. But his “succinct” version of his time during the war years glossed over the extent of his involvement, which he eventually revealed in his 2006 memoir.

Considering he had made his name urging his country to remember—for example, that cover story pointed out, in his 1963 Dog Years he had written of “magic spectacles that allowed postwar German children to see exactly what their innocent parents were actually doing between 1939 and 1945″—the fact that he had did not completely described his own history earlier was devastating to his reputation. Amid the outrage, Grass said that he was still coming to terms with the past during those intervening years. When TIME lauded his “slow maturing,” that process had still been unfinished.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: The Dentist’s Chair as an Allegory of Life

TIME Books

Why TIME Declared George R.R. Martin ‘An American Tolkien’

TIME 100 Gala, TIME'S 100 Most Influential People In The World - Arrivals
Stephen Lovekin—Getty Images for Time Warner George R.R. Martin attends the TIME 100 Gala on April 26, 2011 in New York City.

TIME wrote about the author in 2005

In 2005, when the fourth A Song of Ice and Fire installment, A Feast for Crows, was released, author George R.R. Martin was still mostly unknown except among serious fantasy readers.

When TIME’s Lev Grossman reviewed the book and explained to readers who Martin was, he could still frame things by saying that Martin wasn’t the best-known American fantasy writer. Eragon author Christopher Paolini, Wheel of Time author Robert Jordan and Ursula K. LeGuin were all more famous.These days, of course, the slightest hint that Martin may be typing anything is met with near universal glee from fans of the immensely popular HBO adaptation of his work.

But not everything has changed since 2005: though Grossman noted that Martin wasn’t as famous as some of his peers, he also proclaimed that “of those who work in the grand epic-fantasy tradition, Martin is by far the best.” He was good enough, in fact, for the story to be headlined “An American Tolkien.” Here’s why:

What really distinguishes Martin, and what marks him as a major force for evolution in fantasy, is his refusal to embrace a vision of the world as a Manichaean struggle between Good and Evil. Tolkien’s work has enormous imaginative force, but you have to go elsewhere for moral complexity. Martin’s wars are multifaceted and ambiguous, as are the men and women who wage them and the gods who watch them and chortle, and somehow that makes them mean more.

Martin’s series may remain unfinished, but his moral complexity returns to television on Sunday, April 12.

Read the full 2005 story, here in the TIME archives: The American Tolkien

TIME Books

What J.K. Rowling Said About Writing More Harry Potter Books

Author J.K. Rowling at the Empire State Building in New York City on April 9, 2015.
Evan Agostini—AP Author J.K. Rowling at the Empire State Building in New York City on April 9, 2015.

Drum roll please

It’s the question people have been asking for eight years, ever since J.K. Rowling published her final Harry Potter book: Will she ever write more?

Matt Lauer interviewed Rowling on the Today show and asked just that. Was a potential Potter sequel the reason she’s been keeping a low profile?

“No,” Rowling answered. “But even as I answer that, I know that someone’s cutting this on YouTube to make it as though I just gave you hope.” For extra clarity, she continued: “I’m afraid I haven’t been writing the next Harry Potter.”

But she did leave fans with a glimmer of hope. “I have always said never say…. well, not never say never,” she said. “I’ve always said I’m not going to say I definitely won’t because, because I don’t see why I should say that. You know, it’s my world, and I might choose to step back into it. And in a way, I am stepping back into it.”

By that, Rowling was referring to her recent foray into the wizarding world via writing the script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which heads to the screen next year. “So you know, that door is always opened to me,” the author continued. “But I think Harry Potter 8, as in what happened next to Harry, Ron and Hermione—I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Books

There’s a New Most Literate City in America

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Jamie Grill—Getty Images/Tetra images RF Row of books on shelf

Washington D.C. lost the title

Minneapolis has been named the “Most Literate City” in the United States, USA Today reports.

The Minnesota city — which is appropriately currently hosting the Association for Writers & Writing Programs Conference — was given the title in the 12th annual “Most Literate City” study, conducted by Central Connecticut State University president Dr. Jack Miller.

Washington D.C., which held the title for the last four years, was bumped down to the number two spot. It is followed by Seattle, St. Paul (also in Minnesota) and Atlanta.

The study looked at data surrounding local bookstores, library resources, newspaper circulation and education levels.

See the rest of the ranking here.

[USA Today]

 

TIME Books

These Are the 25 Most-Highlighted Game of Thrones Quotes

On Amazon's Kindle e-readers

While you await the Game of Thrones season five premiere on Sunday, take a look back at the five books by George R. R. Martin that inspired the HBO show. Amazon provided TIME with the 25 most highlighted quotes from the literary series on its Kindle e-readers to help you pass time as you count down to the simultaneous HBO and HBO Go broadcast at 9 p.m. E.T.:

From A Game of Thrones (Book 1):

  • “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
  • “Let them see that their words can cut you, and you’ll never be free of the mockery. If they want to give you a name, take it, make it your own. Then they can’t hurt you with it anymore.”
  • “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
  • “’The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends,’ Ser Jorah told her. ‘It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace.’ He gave a shrug. ‘They never are.’”
  • “If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”

From A Clash of Kings (Book 2):

  • “Sorcery is the sauce fools spoon over failure to hide the flavor of their own incompetence.”
  • “Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.”
  • “There’s no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it.”
  • “Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.”
  • “What good is this, I ask you? He who hurries through life hurries to his grave.”

From A Storm of Swords (Book 3):

  • “Old stories are like old friends, she used to say. You have to visit them from time to time.”
  • “The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them,”
  • “Everyone wants something, Alayne. And when you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.”
  • “Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next. Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you.”
  • “One voice may speak you false, but in many there is always truth to be found.”

From A Feast for Crows (Book 4):

  • “History is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging.”
  • “Knowledge is a weapon, Jon. Arm yourself well before you ride forth to battle.”
  • “I prefer my history dead. Dead history is writ in ink, the living sort in blood.”
  • “In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you’ve planned for them. Mark that well, Alayne. It’s a lesson that Cersei Lannister still has yet to learn.”
  • “Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old.”

From A Dance With Dragons (Book 5):

  • “’A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.’”
  • “The fisherman drowned, but his daughter got Stark to the Sisters before the boat went down. They say he left her with a bag of silver and a bastard in her belly. Jon Snow, she named him, after Arryn.”
  • “You could make a poultice out of mud to cool a fever. You could plant seeds in mud and grow a crop to feed your children. Mud would nourish you, where fire would only consume you, but fools and children and young girls would choose fire every time.”
  • “Men live their lives trapped in an eternal present, between the mists of memory and the sea of shadow that is all we know of the days to come.”
  • “No. Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.”

Read next: Everything You Need to Know Before Game of Thrones Season 5 Starts

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TIME Books

Read TIME’s Original Review of The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The book came out exactly 90 years ago

The main book review in the May 11, 1925, issue of TIME earned several columns of text, with an in-depth analysis of the book’s significance and the author’s background.

But, nearly a century later, you’ve probably never heard of Mr. Tasker’s Gods, by T.F. Powys, much less read it.

Meanwhile, another book reviewed in the issue, earning a single paragraph relegated to the second page of the section, has gone down in history as one of the most important works in American literature — and, to many, the great American novel. It was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, published exactly 90 years ago, on April 10, 1925.

TIME’s original review, though noting Fitzgerald’s talent, gave little hint of the fame waiting for the book:

THE GREAT GATSBY—F. Scott Fitzgerald—Scribner—($2.00).

Still the brightest boy in the class, Scott Fitzgerald holds up his hand. It is noticed that his literary trousers are longer, less bell-bottomed, but still precious. His recitation concerns Daisy Fay who, drunk as a monkey the night before she married Tom Buchanan, muttered: “Tell ’em all Daisy’s chang’ her mind.” A certain penniless Navy lieutenant was believed to be swimming out of her emotional past. They gave her a cold bath, she married Buchanan, settled expensively at West Egg, L. I., where soon appeared one lonely, sinister Gatsby, with mounds of mysterious gold, ginny habits and a marked influence on Daisy. He was the lieutenant, of course, still swimming. That he never landed was due to Daisy’s baffled withdrawal to the fleshly, marital mainland. Due also to Buchanan’s disclosure that the mounds of gold were ill-got. Nonetheless, Yegg Gatsby remained Daisy’s incorruptible dream, unpleasantly removed in person toward the close of the book by an accessory in oil-smeared dungarees.

But not everyone had trouble seeing the future: in a 1933 cover story about Gertrude Stein, the intellectual icon offered her prognostications on the literature of her time. F. Scott Fitzgerald, she told TIME, “will be read when many of his well known contemporaries are forgotten.”

TIME Culture

The Serious Business of Pulp Fiction

open-book
Getty Images

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

How paperbacks helped forge our modern ideas about sex, race, and war

Cheap paperback books are like sex: They claim attention, elicit memories good and bad, and get talked about endlessly. The mid-20th century was the era of pulp, which landed in America in 1939.

You could pick up these paper-bound books at the corner drugstore or bus station for a quarter. They had juicy covers featuring original (and sometimes provocative) art, blurring the lines between canonical literature (Emily Brontë and Honoré de Balzac) and the low genres of crime, romance, and Westerns. Even fairly tame cover images grabbed attention. The Unexpected!, Bennett Cerf’s 1948 collection of “high tension stories” for Bantam Books, featured a cover by artist Ed Grant of a woman and a man—both in proper suits, though hers is flaming red—standing horrified in front of an open trapdoor. It hints at the thrills within.

Paperbacks went beyond lurid fiction. They brought high culture and scholarly nonfiction to readers, covering every conceivable taste and topic, from anti-Semitism (James Parkes’ 1946 An Enemy of the People) to works by diplomats, philosophers, physicists, anthropologists, even Sigmund Freud and Stendhal.

At 25 to 35 cents a pop—wages for a night of babysitting or the cost of a pack of cigarettes— paperbacks could be had by anyone, and so enabled teenagers and poor and working people to enter fully into the cultural landscape. Irving Shulman’s The Amboy Dukes was passed among Brooklyn street kids who emulated the gangs rampaging through the novel; bored housewives whiled away hours in suburbia minding house and children by reading paperbacks they picked up at the grocery store. In the 1950s, these books created secret communities of readers who fashioned identities through ownership; women in rural America might come to recognize themselves as lesbians after finding Women’s Barracks by Tereska Torrès on a candy store rack; would-be intellectuals could glimpse William Gaddis’ postmodernism in the New American Library’s New World Writing collection.

Unlike other forms of mass media that could be consumed at home—radio and later, television—paperbacks offered more than ephemeral content. Compact enough to carry anywhere, they were total packages, providing content not only through the text in their pages and illustrations on their covers, but also as objects. The books’ shape, smell, feel, even the sound of their cracking bindings helped to create a rare sense of connection among readers, booksellers, publishers, and authors. E.L. Doctorow, who was an editor at New American Library before becoming a published author, remembers his first deep reading experience plowing through the first 10 Pocket Books published in 1939 while he languished in a hospital bed recovering from a near-fatal disease.

Paperbacks could be serious business. In His Eye Is on the Sparrow (1952), Ethel Waters told her story of fighting against racism, poverty, and abuse to become a breakthrough singer and actress on Broadway and in Hollywood. Declaring her birth, “October 31, 1900, was the date, Chester, Pennsylvania, the place, which makes me, I trust, an American citizen,” she connects her life to that of the century and the nation, making clear that by 1951, even before Brown v. Board of Education, a poor, black woman claimed full citizenship in this country. Daphne Rooke’s Mittee (1953) unveiled South African apartheid through an interracial love triangle involving a white man, a white woman, and her mixed race female servant. The book included a glossary of Afrikaans terminology for U.S. readers to enlarge their vocabulary and open their eyes to distant parts of the world.

Since the publication of my book America Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street, I have had the moving (and somewhat bewildering) experience of hearing very personal stories that confirm my argument about how paperbacks permeated daily life. Dozens of people—total strangers, long-ago boyfriends, friends of friends, collectors, bibliographers—have written me emails and letters, and sent me packages containing pulp pulled from their shelves.

I recently received an email from one reader, who wrote about her relative, Jack Nemec, an immigrant who wrote a dozen kinky titles, including Sin Caravan, The Spy Who Came to Bed, and The Darkest Urge. She learned about these books after his death; some relatives are a “smidge embarrassed that we have a ‘porn’ writer in the family,” she wrote—in fact, they threw out all his books after he died. Nemec’s books are hard to come by these days; she has read only one, Is She a Dyke? Her email concluded that she is a “bit proud that we’re a part of this little part of Americana.”

Her pride zeroes in on the crux of what pulp meant in the middle of the 20th century—and how we might understand it now. These books are a little piece of Americana; they linked the midway to the bedroom. The plot of Nemec’s Easy Sue—there’s one copy available on eBay—features an enormous woman who finds fulfillment working in a carnival where she meets the human giant; he’s well endowed. And yet the book’s design—its sleazy cover and handy shape—resembled the cover of William Faulkner’s novel The Unvanquished. Appealing to every taste, paperbacks were (and still are) trafficked—bartered, bought, exchanged, sequestered, hidden, destroyed … and loved. Because they carry traces of both the illicit and aspirational, they figure as distillations of America’s various dreams.

Pulp elevated working people into writers and collectors and was a quirky means for immigrants to assimilate to American culture. A rural Midwesterner moved to New York City and found paperbacks were the vehicle for his social mobility. The man’s daughter, who lives in the Netherlands, sent me a copy of his memoir. Karl Zimmer became “a Johnny Appleseed from the Heartland [who] spread American books across three continents.” In the 1950s, he drummed Ian Ballantine’s paperbacks to booksellers up and down Manhattan while working “a night job operating a machine that extruded insulation onto electric cable at a factory in Brooklyn.”

Hawking paperbacks was an uncommon route out of the Midwest and into pulp; most entered as consumers, picking something off a rack. A New York artist described in an email how she remembered her parents’ bedroom side tables filled with paperbacks. They bought the books at Pete Bianchi’s soda fountain and tobacco store in Ohio, “where our father used to take us kids for comic books and treats, and where he could peruse the rotating shelves of pulp mysteries.” Those drugstore visits to find books that were unavailable at the local library still inhabit readers’ memories. Encountering pulp was a family affair, undertaken together, in plain view, not hidden in a plain brown wrapper as Nemec’s novels surely would have been. Those books were a part of the landscape of Smalltown, U.S.A. They made us who we are: a pocket-book nation.

Cheap paperbacks helped to forge modern ideas about race, sex, war, science, and much more. During their heyday from the late 1930s to the late 1950s, pulp spread the practice of everyday reading, bringing to a mass audience of avid readers—everything from smut to theology; from whodunits to Macbeth. Paperbacks ’R’ Us.

Paula Rabinowitz is professor of English at the University of Minnesota and author of America Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street. She wrote this for What It Means to Be American, a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

The Fug Girls on a Century of Royal Weddings

With a new novel loosely based on a certain royal romance out today, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan re-examine some regal weddings

Correction appended, April 7, 2015.

It’s been four years since Kate Middleton donned the McQueen wedding gown that launched a thousand paper dolls and princess fantasies. So far, so good: royal baby No. 2 is due this month. But living a fairy tale isn’t always so easy — something we explore in our new novel The Royal We, which opens on the eve of a royal wedding that may not happen and is loosely based on the courtship of Prince William and Kate Middleton. In honor of happy endings, both hoped-for and actual, join us as we explore a century of British royal wedding gowns and the real-life characters who wore them.

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan are the authors of The Royal We, out this week. Their blog, GoFugYourself, is a witty, no-holds-barred look at celebrity fashion and pop culture.

Correction: The original version of this included a photo caption that misidentified King George V and Queen Mary.

  • Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, 1863

    The Prince of Wales marriage to Alexandra of Denmark at St. George 's Chapel, Windsor on March 10, 1863.
    Lebrecht/Corbis An illustration of the Prince of Wales' marriage to Alexandra of Denmark at St. George 's Chapel, Windsor on March 10, 1863.

    Like many royal brides after her, Queen Alexandra proved to be a trendsetter. Victorian women copied not only her habitual high-necked dresses and giant chokers (which she wore to cover a scar), they even aped her limp. We can only assume that, after this wedding, everyone who was anyone considered wearing a crown of orange blossoms to the market.

  • George V and Queen Mary, 1893

    King George V on his wedding day with his bride Princess Mary of Teck on July 6, 1893.
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images King George V on his wedding day with his bride Princess Mary of Teck on July 6, 1893.

    You wouldn’t know it from their solemn expressions, but these two were a love match. Mary of Teck was chosen as the bride for Edward VII’s heir Albert Victor, but when Albert died of influenza, she fell for his brother during the throes of grief. (Where’s the swoony PBS miniseries about that)? The dress has a more alluring cut than its predecessors, but the orange blossom strands — a purity motif — feel a bit like a late add. Or a hasty assurance that the fiance-swap was all above-board.

  • George VI and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, 1923

    Royal Wedding
    AP Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Prince Albert, Duke of York (later to be King George VI) on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London on April 26, 1923.

    The former Prince Albert’s choice of a non-royal wife was considered extremely modern, even for a man who was at that time The Spare, and Elizabeth’s dress reflects that: Its 1920s look dovetails with reports that it was chosen from a shop window mere weeks before the wedding. Papers at the time called it “medieval” and they had a point; it’s not the most flattering or dreamy garment. But Elizabeth’s lack of interest in frills (she refused a tiara) may be part of what the world loved about her: Here, and during the war and beyond, she just put her head down and got it done.

  • Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor (formerly Edward VIII), 1937

    Windsor Wedding
    Topical Press Agency/Getty Images The Duke of Windsor, formerly Edward VIII King of Great Britain and the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, on their wedding day at the Chateau de Conde, near Tours, France.

    The tremendous romance of a man abdicating the throne for his true love (who happened to have been married to someone else) has, in recent years, been sullied by reports that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were rumored Nazi sympathizers. And so we feel comfortable noting that, though Wallis’s gown is deeply appropriate for her third wedding, her headdress looks like she stuck a dinner plate in her bun.

  • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, 1947

    Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh wave to the crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London on their wedding day. Nov. 20,1947.
    AP Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh wave to the crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London on their wedding day. Nov. 20,1947.

    Perhaps it’s because she has reigned so long, and long may she yet, but QEII never struck us as one for girly frills and furbelows. So the stunning 13-foot Botticelli-inspired veil feels surprising now, but back then, it was simply meant to symbolize rebirth after the war. She paid for it with clothing-ration coupons, which is awesome, and makes us wish McQueen would accept whatever we could clip out of the Penny Saver.

  • Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon), 1960

    Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones at Buckingham Palace at their marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London on May 6, 1960.
    AP Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones at Buckingham Palace at their marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London on May 6, 1960.

    Princess Margaret’s was the first televised royal wedding, and her ensemble was worthy of the honor. From the top of her glorious tiara to the hem of her stunningly simple and perfectly tailored gown (courtesy of Norman Hartnell, who also designed QE2’s gown, this time free of post-WWII fabric rationing constrictions), she looked timeless and unforgettable. Now that is a princess.

     

  • Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, 1973

    Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips leaving the west door of Westminster Abbey in London, after their wedding ceremony, Nov. 14, 1973.
    AP Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips leaving the west door of Westminster Abbey in London, after their wedding ceremony, Nov. 14, 1973.

    Anne seems like the royal family member who you’d run to for a good Get-A-Grip talk. She comes across as no-nonsense and practical, as if her name is spelled A-n-n-e but pronounced “sen-si-ble” — and so we were surprised to discover that this otherwise spartan gown has massive wizard sleeves. Then again, Anne is also the royal family member we’d be least surprised to see whip out a wand and shout, “Expelliarmus,” or transfigure into a panther. So maybe the math here is sound after all.

  • Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles, 1981

    Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer on their wedding day at St Paul's Cathedral, London on July 29, 1981.
    AP Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer on their wedding day at St Paul's Cathedral, London on July 29, 1981.

    Anyone who was alive when this wedding happened — or even within a few years of it — doesn’t need to see a photo of Diana’s gown. It totally just burst into your head, like popcorn from a kernel, which is kind of what its puffed sleeves evoke. The dress and its 25-foot train were nearly too large to fit into the carriage she would take to St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the moment, it was Cinderella; in hindsight, it was stratospherically over-the-top, but either way it is indisputably iconic.

  • Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew, 1986

    Anwar Hussein Collection
    Anwar Hussein—Getty Images Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew, Duke of York stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and wave at their wedding on July 23, 1986 in London.

    Fergie and Diana are forever intertwined in many ways, not least of which is that Sarah’s wedding gown, being the first to follow Di’s, looks like the instructions were, “Do that, but divided by four.” Only in royal-wedding terms could a dress with that much beading (everything from anchors and waves, to their initials, to bumblebees from her family crest) be considered a restrained step back.

  • Sophie Rhys-Jones and Prince Edward, 1999

    The Earl and Countess of Wessex on their wedding day on June 19, 1999.
    PA Wire/Press Association Images The Earl and Countess of Wessex on their wedding day on June 19, 1999.

    Edward and Sophie’s wedding wasn’t a full state occasion — no foreign dignitaries were invited, and everyone was told to leave their hats at home (which seems quite boring, frankly). So it stands to reason that Sophie’s dress feels a bit more humdrum than Fergie’s or Diana’s. Sixteen years later, the Countess of Wessex is an Alexander McQueen-loving fashion plate, and we can’t help but wonder what she’d wear if she were allowed a do-over.

  • Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall, 2011

    Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall in Edinburgh on July 30, 2011.
    Express Newspapers/AP Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall in Edinburgh on July 30, 2011.

    This may seem woefully dull — whoops, let’s say understated —and as though it may actually be the underskirt of a much cooler gown. But it was designed by the Queen’s own couturier. We can’t decide if Zara picked it herself, or if it was Granny’s pointed attempt to take control of her granddaughter’s historically wilder style. Still, even with that duvet-like hem, Zara looks elegant and happy, and as if she won’t get grief from her children in fifteen years when they Google “Zara Phillips wedding.” Which is really the important thing.

  • Kate Middleton and Prince William, 2011

    Britain Royal Wedding
    Matt Dunham—AP Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Royal Wedding in London April, 29, 2011.

    Okay, Zara and Mike got married six months after Kate and Wills did, but we wanted to end on a high note. And there truly is no higher: When the eyes of the entire planet were on her, Kate delivered the most elegantly dreamy and perfectly streamlined Alexander McQueen. This dress assured designer Sarah Burton’s place in history, and helped propel Kate not only into one of the most-watched wardrobes of the world, but into every generation’s hearts and imaginations. And maybe, just a little bit, into a book.

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