Servants: A Downstairs View of Twentieth-century Britain

Author(s): Lucy Lethbridge

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Servants: A Downstairs View of Twentieth-century Britain is the social history of the last century through the eyes of those who served. From the butler, the footman, the maid and the cook of 1900 to the au pairs, cleaners and childminders who took their place seventy years later, a previously unheard class offers a fresh perspective on a dramatic century. Here, the voices of servants and domestic staff, largely ignored by history, are at last brought to life: their daily household routines, attitudes towards their employers, and to each other, throw into sharp and intimate relief the period of feverish social change through which they lived. Sweeping in its scope, extensively researched and brilliantly observed, Servants is an original and fascinating portrait of twentieth-century Britain; an authoritative history that will change and challenge the way we look at society.


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An original, authoritative look at the social history of the twentieth century, brilliantly retold through the eyes of the household servants

Enthusiasts of bonnets and waistcoats will find Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey all the more enjoyable after reading this nuanced and elegantly written account of the wider context. And in tracing the history of servants throughout the whole of the 20th century, Lethbridge offers a new vantage point from which to reassess British social history Lara Feigel, Observer Humane, perceptive and dispassionate, Servants takes us more deeply and comprehensively than any previous account into the real world of Upstairs Downstairs David Kynaston Glorious ... Servants is full of eyebrow-raising and laughter-inducing vignettes. But what is most fascinating is Lethbridge's account of the dark side of the master-servant relationship **** Daily Telegraph What Downtown Abbey will never touch on ... In this excellent addition to the history of domestic service in the 20th century, Lucy Lethbridge has swept the existing archive and added new sources of her own. The result is a richly textured account of what it felt like to spend the decades of high modernity on your knees with a dustpan and brush ... Hugely enjoyable ... Where Servants excels is in describing those placed where the older paradigms of domestic service, inherited from the late 19th century, began to break down ... Always pleasurable prose Guardian Scholarly, thorough and vastly entertaining ... Her style is elegant, detached and slyly witty and her canvas sprawling and immense Financial Times Absorbing ... Lucy Lethbridge finds a great deal to write about, all of it fascinating ... Lethbridge enables us to hear the voices of her subjects; she skilfully interweaves written and oral testimony ... This book is empathetic, wide-ranging and well-written: it will enthral many readers Spectator Engrossing ... Devotees of Downton Abbey will recognise the territory of the opening chapters ... Lethbridge vividly describes how this world was forced to adapt itself to the new economic realities brought by war Sunday Telegraph Enlightening and elegantly written social history Joy Lo Dico, Independent on Sunday An illuminating look at the privations of life below stairs The Mail on Sunday An enthralling social history of the past century, told through the eyes of those who served ... Here, the voices of servants and home helpers, largely ignored by history, are brought to life. And what a life! ... The book is full of fascinating titbits ... Lethbridge shows that the history of life below stairs is just as interesting as the story of life above them Tatler Thoroughly researched and tremendously entertaining ... Illustrated with a host of terrific anecdotes The Sunday Times Full of such glorious and sobering stories ... It makes a grand sweep, covering a rich swathe of social history which she unpicks with delicacy, humanity and humour ... Throughout her meticulously researched book, Lethbridge shows how complex and varied the relationship between servant and master could be The Tablet Comprehensively reached and charmingly engaging, Servants is a sensitive, humane and penetrating insight into British society Western Morning News Absorbing history ... Telling their story so fully and humanely Economist Fascinating Rebecca Armstrong, Independent

Lucy Lethbridge has written for a number of publications and is also the author of several children's books, one of which, Who Was Ada Lovelace?, won the 2002 Blue Peter Award for non-fiction. She lives in London.

General Fields

  • : 9781408842706
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : September 2013
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : March 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Lucy Lethbridge
  • : Paperback
  • : 414
  • : English
  • : 941.082
  • : 400