Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times

by Lucy Lethbridge


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A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

"Beautifully written, sparkling with insight, and a pleasure to read, Servants is social history at its most humane and perceptive." —Paul Addison, Times Literary Supplement

From the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate to the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house, domestics were an essential yet unobtrusive part of the British hierarchy for much of the past century, required to tread softly and blend into the background. Lucy Lethbridge’s Servants gives them a voice in this discerning portrait of the complex relationship between the server, the served, and the world they lived in, opening a window on British society from the Edwardian period to the present.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393349801
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 11/17/2014
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 369,043
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Lucy Lethbridge is the author of the highly praised Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times and Mind Your Manors: Tried-and-True British Household Cleaning Tips. She lives in London.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part I The Symbolic Pantomime

1 'A Sort of Silence and Embarrassment' 3

2 The Dainty Life 13

3 'A Seat in the Hall' 25

4 Centralising the Egg Yolks 34

5 Popinjays and Mob Caps 41

6 The Desire for Perfection 50

7 'Some Poor Girl's Got To Go Up and Down, Up and Down…' 59

Part II The Sacred Trust

8 The Ideal Village 83

9 'Silent, Obsequious and Omnipresent' 100

10 'Bowing and Scraping' 113

Part III The Age of Ambivalence

11 'Out of a Cage' 141

12 'Don't Think Your Life Will Be Any Different to Mine' 149

13 'It Was Exploitation But It Worked' 161

14 'Tall, Strong, Healthy and Keen to Work' 170

15 The Mechanical Maid 180

Part IV Outer Show and Inner Life

16 'A Vast Machine That Has Forgotten How to Stop Working' 193

17 'Bachelor Establishments Are Notoriously Comfortable' 208

18 The Question of the Inner Life 218

19 'Do They Really Drink Out of Their Saucers?' 229

20 'Of Alien Origin' 236

Part V A New Jerusalem

21 'A New and Useful Life' 251

22 The Housewife Militant 265

23 'The Change: It Must Have Been Terrible for Them' 276

24 The Shape of Things to Come 286

Part VI 'We Don't Want Them Days Again'

25 'We've Moved to the Front' 299

26 'I'd Never Done What I Liked… Never in All My Life' 310

27 'We Like It Because the Past Is Not So Worrying as the News' 316

Notes 327

Bibliography 353

Acknowledgements 369

Index 371

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Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For the Downton Abbey aficionado, this is a series of inside views of what it was like to be in service in England from 1880-1945. These people provided quality environments for a secure, but underpaid living. To wash the coins in the lord's pockets displayed the thoroughness of this attention.
RainyGirl More than 1 year ago
Easily one of the best social histories I've read. The research is meticulous, the writing superb--just a joy to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like Downton Abbey this book gives more insight to life above and below stairs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walked in sighing tiredly, knowing she was going to be auctioned off. She shook her head tossing her long black hair that feel to her lower back. Her violet eyes looked around, uncomfortable since she only had br and underwear on, exposing her ivory skin. She sighed again, yanking on her erist shackles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
R u supposed to a se x slave? If so, go to auction res 1-6