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Labours Lost: Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England (Hardback)
  • Labours Lost: Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England (Hardback)
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Labours Lost: Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England (Hardback)

(author)
£82.00
Hardback 426 Pages / Published: 12/11/2009
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This is a unique account of the hidden history of servants and their employers in late eighteenth-century England and of how servants thought about and articulated their resentments. It is a book which encompasses state formation and the maidservant pounding away at dirty nappies in the back kitchen; taxes on the servant's labour and the knives he cleaned, the water he fetched, and the privy he shovelled out. Carolyn Steedman shows how deeply entwined all of these entities, objects and people were in the imagination of those doing the shovelling and pounding and in the political philosophies that attempted to make sense of it all. Rather than fitting domestic service into conventional narratives of `industrial revolution' or `the making of the English working class' she offers instead a profound re-reading of this formative period in English social history which restores the servants' lost labours to their rightful place.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521516372
Number of pages: 426
Weight: 800 g
Dimensions: 228 x 152 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'Steedman ... wants to do more than simply revise our ideas about who did what in the Hanoverian household. Her overarching aim is to put domestic servants back into the grand narrative of British class formation.' Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
'Academics and students of social history and literature, as well as biographers, will find this new work invaluable. [Steedman] takes us into the world of servants and their employers, such as Hester Thrale and Lord Mansfield, where we read about their relationships as well as the devious techniques used by employers to evade servant taxes.' The Times Higher Education Supplement
'What makes [Steedman's] book stand out is the quality of imagination it displays. One might describe it as an intellectual history of domestic service, because it is above all an account of the way people thought about service: how servants thought about it, how their employers thought about it, how magistrates, lawyers, tax collectors and MPs thought about it.' Joanna Innes, London Review of Books
'This remarkable monograph has much to offer scholars of the literature and history of the period who will not fail to be impressed by Steedman's erudition. It is unlikely, thanks to the author's extensive research and intellectual prowess, that the importance of domestic servants in the making of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century class society will ever again be marginalized.' Katrina Honeyman, American Historical Review
'A rich description of the lives of servants in the late eighteenth century, showing us the everyday and the unusual, taking us from the most mundane realities to philosophical questions of who owned a servant's labor.' Joyce Burnette, EH.net
'This highly readable book is remarkable for the level of detail unearthed about the daily experience of domestic service ... Her overwhelming evidence and convincing analysis should call historians of labor, gender, and culture to attend to its claims and to set to work immediately on reconfiguring the larger historical narratives of the working classes; class consciousness; gender relations; the relationship between humans and animals; and conceptions of the self, privacy, and personal identity.' Dana Rabin, Journal of British Studies

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