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You must be a registered user to use the IMDb rating plugin. Episodes Seasons. Photos Add Image Add an image Do you have any images for this title? The working conditions weren't better for the young men as far as hours and harrowing duties. However they were paid more and their upper positions came with much status and prestige.
In addition their quite well made and very expensive livery plus powdered wigs were provided and tailored by the employers. I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan and I'm afraid this had made the storyline regarding the staff relationships with The Family seem preposterous. That's unfortunate and almost seems a silencing of the servants true stories which do deserve to be told. View all 5 comments. Jul 31, katie rated it it was ok. Downton Abbey is so hott right now.
The life of a British Earl, his family, and staff- utterly delightful. Through in his upper middle class cousin, yessir! I thoroughly enjoy reading about class roles in Victorian and Edwardian England but Life Below Stairs is not one of those reads. It is not as boring as other readers may it out to be but it definitely lacked in some areas. It is like the writer stops mid way through an idea. She gives these wonderful real life examples of servants but never Downton Abbey is so hott right now.
She gives these wonderful real life examples of servants but never really finishes their stories very frustrating- I want to know what happen to the knocked up maid.
Also- it is not the best research book she relies more on other people research than on primary sources it seems. May 08, Rachel rated it it was ok. I impulsively picked this up in my local library, as it was on the "Featured Titles" table. A slim, light read that I finished in two sittings, I suspect its publication is directly related to the commercial success of the Dowton Abbey television programme.
Which I've been meaning to watch, but I find soap operas dull and not sure the handsome valets and Edwardian costumes will be enough to overcome that, but people assure me that it's worth a peek and so I do intend to watch it. As ent I impulsively picked this up in my local library, as it was on the "Featured Titles" table. As entertainment, this is a satisfying read - I zipped through it, and found most of it interesting. As history, hm, there are far better resources available about the lives of Victorian and Edwardian servants. From a socio-economic standpoint, it's a fascinating time in history.
This is a very difficult concept for modern people to accept - nowadays, it's mostly affluent people who have live-in servants. Even in the 19th century, labor was never as cheap and plentiful in the States as in the UK, and for that reason, many Gilded-Age wealthy Americans preferred to hire immigrants from Great Britain rather than their own countryman, who were regarded as too uppity to make effective servants.
The class structure of late 19th- and early 20th-century Great Britain is somewhat mystifying to Americans. Upper classes were titled aristocrats and landowners, regardless of their wealth or lack thereof. Working classes labored with their hands, and yet a prosperous cabinet-maker could have much more disposible income than an impoverished aristocrat. There was a clear division between "lettered men" and "unlettered men," and a poor parson's son was considered a higher social class because he could read and write, than a prosperous laborer who earned a good living with his hands.
These distinctions are very different from the modern American notion of class, which is directly related to economic status and not to education or aristocratic titles. As difficult as the work was in domestic service, the poor often regarded it as a good option.
Standards of living have risen so high in the Western world that what we now describe as "poor" in most Western countries are a hundred times better off the poor of the 19th century or for that matter, the poor of most Third-World countries The simple fact that the majority of domestic servants got regular meals, ate meat daily, and enjoyed the leftovers from the master's table, that they had shelter, and almost no expenses, and could therefore spare their families another mouth to feed, and send home their modest wages to support younger siblings - all of these things were far from trivial in an era without birth control, in which children as young as six or eight were pushed out to fend for themselves while parents devoted their limited resources to infants, in which dying of disease or starvation were far from uncommon - how quickly we've forgotten why poor parents were eager to place children as young as 12 in service.
For the same reason, many men joined the military and endured conditions that we would consider appallingly bad treatment - and yet, the prospect of three square meals a day, including meat, and room and board and a ration of ale or rum, attracted many starving people to the military service. In any case, Maloney's book contains some interesting snippets drawn from letters and diaries of the servants of the era, but her own knowledge of the history seems a bit superficial. In referring to the footmen, she writes, "Bizarrely, they were often given a generic name, such as William or James, which would be used for every footman employed by the household.
It might have also be relevant to mention that John and Thomas were popular generic names for footmen, from which the bawdy slang "John Thomas" derives since footmen always "rose in the presence of a lady". Likewise, Maloney mentions the seduction of young maids by the master of the house, referring to the diary of a year-old aristocratic girl, who described such seduction as "eighteenth century and droit du seigneur and rather nice.
In fact, the seduction of house-maids was not lauded - this was a society in which nearly everyone was Christian and expected to behave in a Christian manner. Certainly this behaviour would have been frowned upon, but the sad fact is that the master of the house ruled the roost, and if he chose to either seduce maids or allow others in his household to do so, there would be very little anyone else could do to prevent it. Nevertheless, to use a girl's diary as evidence that all of Edwardian society found this not merely acceptable, but laudable, is ridiculous, and yet she states that "this young aristocratic lady sums up the attitude of the upper classes to the predatory sexual behaviour which often ruined the life of a vulnerable maid," which is simply untrue.
Maloney also describes droit du seigneur as "an ancient abomination which gave a feudal lord the right to have sex with his subordinate's bride on her wedding night Ancient, classical, and antiquarian generally refer to what would be pre-history in Europe, before written records were widespread - depending on the region and the historian's assessment, this might be anywhere from AD.
The feudal period is definitely later in Great Britain's history and relates more directly to the medieval period. Additionally, there is absolutely no evidence that droit du seigneur was practiced by medieval lords. It's just plain sloppy to report it as such without any citation whatsoever.
When working 'below stairs' was an alternative to starvation
And yet it's one of those inaccuracies that crops up everywhere, since no one bothers to actually verify what is considered common knowlege. Like a bad penny, this inaccurate information reappears everywhere, along with Victorians concealing piano legs behind frilly pantaloons, or the U. Because we know that feudal lords did mistreat their vassals, and particularly English lords in Ireland and Scotland, so why not just tack on yet another awful thing?
Likewise, the US government was dreadful to the Native Americans, so who cares if they weren't actually giving small-pox infected blankets to Native Americans?
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But history is not about conveying character through inventions - accurate details are important and lack of citation is an ongoing problem. Finally, she mentions the unusual story of Arthur Munby, who married a London housemaid Hannah, as a "touching love story" and describes their secret year courthsip, and subsequent secret marriage in which Hannah continued to act as his maid when they had company, as evidence of the social barriers the two of them crossed with their relationship.
This is only part of the bizarre story - Munby had a fetish for hard-working women, especially those who did dirty manual labor. And Hannah herself resisted all efforts to become a grand lady, preferring the manual labor she described in minute detail in her diaries. Perhaps Maloney wanted to keep her book more PG-rated. Even so, this book should not be regarded as valid source material for any serious researcher of the lives of domestic servants in the Edwardian era.
View 2 comments. Jan 17, Angela rated it really liked it. A wonderful book about the life of servants in England from the 's - early 's. Feb 02, Daniela rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction , victorian-edwardian. This book has some very bad reviews and I can only partly understand why. Yes, it is a light read, but does that automatically make it a bad book? I don't think so. In comparison with other books on this topic like Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" it definitely falls short, but overall I thought it was a nice introduction for people who don't yet know a lot about the lives of servants in the Edwardian era and who are looking This book has some very bad reviews and I can only partly understand why.