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Yale University Press
Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England

Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England

by Amanda Vickery
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In this brilliant work, Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of the people who lived there. Writing with her customary wit and verve, she introduces us to men and women from all walks of life: gentlewoman Anne Dormer in her stately Oxfordshire mansion, bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in his dreary London lodgings, genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms with yellow wallpaper, servants with only a locking box to call their own.

Vickery makes ingenious use of upholsterer’s ledgers, burglary trials, and other unusual sources to reveal the roles of house and home in economic survival, social success, and political representation during the long eighteenth century. Through the spread of formal visiting, the proliferation of affordable ornamental furnishings, the commercial celebration of feminine artistry at home, and the currency of the language of taste, even modest homes turned into arenas of social campaign and exhibition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300168969
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 11/30/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Amanda Vickery is Professor in Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England, which won the Whitfield, Wolfson, and Longman History Today prizes.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi

List of Illustrations xi

Introduction 1

1 Thresholds and Boundaries at Home 25

2 Men Alone 49

3 Setting up Home 83

4 His and Hers 106

5 Rooms at the Top 129

6 Wallpaper and Taste 166

7 The Trials of Domestic Dependence 184

8 A Nest of Comforts 207

9 What Women Made 231

10 A Sex in Things? 257

Conclusion 291

Notes 308

Manuscript Collections 350

Select Bibliography 359

Index 368

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Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ponsonby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has had considerable good reviews - some of them reproduced selectively in my paperback copy; but after reading most of the book I found myself wondering whether the praise was quite accurate. The book is undoubtedly interesting, and encapsulates a good deal of original research into sources on domesticity in the Georgian period (though this period is conveniently stretched to get a wider range of sources included). An example of this is the chapter which uses the records of a wallpaper company to draw conclusions about the class and gender characteristics of taste in decoration. And there are many original diaries etc used which reveal the domestic aspects of a wide range of lives. What this book does not do is 'read like a novel' as one review claims. It is more like a monograph masquerading as popular history.
OldRoses on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the reasons that I like history so much is learning that people are the same no matter when they lived. They have the same hopes and dreams. They love their children and hate their in-laws. They have good bosses and bad bosses, and bouts of unemployment. They feud with their neighbors and their extended families. They are just like us but without indoor plumbing and cable.Amanda Vickery has delved into the treasury trove of diaries, retail records, probate records and household account books to provide us with a detailed and intimate look at life during the Georgian period which she defines as 1660 to 1850. We catch glimpses into the lives of bachelors, spinsters, tradespeople and the wealthy. Changing tastes and habits are traced through styles of furniture and wallpaper. Most surprising to me were the number of ¿lodgers¿, people renting one or two rooms in a house, in cities during this period.As fascinating as the details in this book are, I found myself vaguely disappointed. I realized that I already knew most of the information presented by Ms. Vickery through my reading of Jane Austen. In fact, Ms. Vickery quotes Jane Austen frequently in support for her conclusions. Jane Austen¿s vivid descriptions of the homes and lives of her characters are perfect illustrations of the very people that Ms. Vickery is trying to bring to life for us.Which leads me to wonder, do we really need this book? Are Jane Austen¿s books not "history" because they are fiction? Perhaps "Behind Closed Doors" would better be described as finding the factual basis for Jane Austen¿s fictional world. Budding novelists are always advised to write what they know which is exactly what Jane Austen did. How well she wrote about the world she knew, is shown by Ms. Vickery¿s extensive research into the life and times of the people of Georgian England.