Once Upon a Time: A True Story, Signed by Gloria Vanderbilt, First Edition, 1985

Vanderbilt, Gloria. Once Upon a Time: A True Story. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. First Edition, Signed by Gloria Vanderbilt. Original Dust Jacket.

This is a first edition of Gloria Vanderbilt’s famous memoir, Once Upon a Time: A True Story. Boldly signed by Vanderbilt, this book was published in New York by Alfred A. Knopf in 1985. It details the closely followed story of Gloria’s custody battle of 1934. 

Gloria Vanderbilt was a fashion designer, socialite, author, and heiress to part of the Vanderbilt fortune. The Vanderbilts were dubbed “American Royalty” in the Gilded Age who had more money in 1877 than the U.S. Treasury. By the mid-1900s most of the fortune had dissipated, but the family remained in the spotlight as social figures. Gloria is best remembered for her own iconic fashion ventures, founded on designer jeans. 

This memoir details her experiences throughout a much-publicized custody battle between Gloria’s mother and her paternal aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt. After Gloria’s father passed away, she and her widowed mother lived off of interest payments from Gloria’s trust fund. Her mother traveled Europe, taking Gloria with her until she took her daughter back to America for tonsillitis surgery. Gloria was placed in the care of her aunt, Gertrude throughout her recovery while her mother went back to Europe. The custody battle ignited when Gertrude cut Gloria’s mother’s interest payments in half. Gertrude then refused to give Gloria back to her mother, claiming she was unfit. 

The ensuing custody battle over the 10-year-old Gloria captured the nation’s attention amidst the Great Depression. The so-called “poor little rich girl” was followed by the media and constantly coached by lawyers. This book gives a vivid depiction of Gloria’s experience and the adults who both cared for and fought over her as a young child.


Overall very good condition. Gloria Vanderbilt’s signature is in clear, black ink on the free end page. The original dust jacket has some creasing and wear along the top and bottom edges, but all text is legible. Some very slight foxing along the top edge of pages, but internally, the pages are bright and clean. 

Dimensions: 8 ¾” H x 6" W x 1 ¼” D

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