The Housekeeper's Tale: The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House (Paperback)
  • The Housekeeper's Tale: The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House (Paperback)
zoom

The Housekeeper's Tale: The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House (Paperback)

(author)
1 Review Sign in to write a review
£9.99
Paperback 336 Pages / Published: 12/03/2015
  • In stock

Available

  • This item has been added to your basket
Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. Please check by using Click & Collect


'I read the book with enormous appreciation. Tessa Boase brings all these long-ago housekeepers so movingly to life and her excitement in the research is palpable.' Fay Weldon: Novelist, playwright - and housekeeper's daughter

Revelatory, gripping and unexpectedly poignant, this is the story of the invisible women who ran the English country house.

Working as a housekeeper was one of the most prestigious jobs a nineteenth and early twentieth century woman could want - and also one of the toughest. A far cry from the Downton Abbey fiction, the real life Mrs Hughes was up against capricious mistresses, low pay, no job security and gruelling physical labour. Until now, her story has never been told.

Revealing the personal sacrifices, bitter disputes and driving ambition that shaped these women's careers, and delving into secret diaries, unpublished letters and the neglected service archives of our stately homes, Tessa Boase tells the extraordinary stories of five working women who ran some of Britain's most prominent households. From Dorothy Doar, Regency housekeeper for the obscenely wealthy 1st Duke and Duchess of Sutherland at Trentham Hall, Staffordshire, to Sarah Wells, a deaf and elderly Victorian in charge of Uppark, West Sussex. From Ellen Penketh, Edwardian cook-housekeeper at the sociable but impecunious Erddig Hall in the Welsh borders to Hannah Mackenzie who runs Wrest Park in Bedfordshire - Britain's first country-house war hospital, bankrolled by playwright J. M. Barrie. And finally Grace Higgens, cook-housekeeper to the Bloomsbury set at Charleston farmhouse in East Sussex for half a century - an era defined by the Second World War.

Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-GBX-NONEX-NONE

Publisher: Aurum Press
ISBN: 9781781314104
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 227 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'A fluent study...Boase builds a deep, rich account of their individual lives, returning from the archive with some telling tales.' -- Kathryn Hughes * Times Literary Supplement *
'A gripping popular history.' -- Bee Wilson * Sunday Telegraph *
'The truth is more scandalous than film or fiction - this is one of those social history studies that makes the reader howl with rage.' -- Roger Lewis * Daily Mail *
'It's fascinating stuff, moving too, written with great brio and such a light but confident touch, which makes it all the more enjoyable.' -- Virginia Nicholson
'It is no easy task to find the voice of the professional domestic servant before the 20th century, but the author has done an excellent job piecing together the stories of these five lives through her painstaking research into letters, memoirs and accounts.' * Country Life *

'Wiped clean of romantic sheen, this is a fascinating perspective into our upstairs/downstairs history.'

* Sainsbury's Magazine *
'A brave book.' * Saga Magazine *
'Serves not only as an account of those who worked below stairs but also the lords and ladies who were their employers, thus providing an admirable social history.' * Scottish Home and Country *
'One of the great strengths of this book is how Boase gets under the skin of the real side of country house life.' * Eastern Daily Press *
'Boase makes history sing, packing her stories with details of family life and class distinctions and the minutiae of everyday living in a house with 10 or 30 or even 100 servants. A great read.' * Toronto Sun *
'Forget Downton Abbey; this exceptionally well-written book is the real deal.' * Spirit FM *

You may also be interested in...

Black and British
Added to basket
£12.99
Paperback
Lady in Waiting
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Added to basket
Unwell Women
Added to basket
£16.99   £14.99
Hardback
The Secret Lives of Colour
Added to basket
Among the Mosques
Added to basket
£18.99   £16.99
Hardback
Who Owns England?
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
The Five
Added to basket
£9.99   £7.99
Paperback
A Curious History of Sex
Added to basket
£12.99   £11.49
Paperback
Stasiland
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Women, Race & Class
Added to basket
Homo Deus
Added to basket
£10.99   £9.99
Paperback
The Man in the Red Coat
Added to basket
£10.99   £9.49
Paperback
Together
Added to basket
£16.99   £14.99
Hardback
Here's the Story
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
Hood Feminism
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback

“Dreary”

A book of unremitting dreariness, at least with regard to the first three housekeepers' stories. I won't give the ends of the stories away but after reading the first three I could not bring myself to read... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 0

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.