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Old 02-03-2014, 09:48 PM
xanthous is offline
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Books about servants' worlds similar to Downton Abbey


I've always been fascinated by late 19th/early 20th century elite society, but I'm finding the formality of the servants' life downstairs on Downton Abbey just as fascinating as I've been watching this show.

Any recommendations for good books, non-fiction or fiction, that describe a life in service in England during that period?
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:59 PM
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A book recently discussed on NPR's Fresh Air:

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/02/258704...ife-downstairs
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:12 PM
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Remains of the Day is slightly later than the period you're talking about, but excellent nonetheless.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:18 PM
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Upstairs Downstairs -An early 70's effort and probably the best in the genre.

Am sure it can be found online and well worth a look

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066722/
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:40 AM
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"The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins has a few interesting chapters written from the head servant's point of view.
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:54 AM
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Many years ago, I got my cousin a book called something like "The Butler's Guide", which told you how to take care of your things (shoes, clothes, wines, etc.) I can't find it now, but there are several "Butler's Guides" at places like Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...#39;s+guide%22

They give an idea of what a butler did, and what their lives were like.
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Old 02-04-2014, 08:34 AM
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I just saw this one when I was bookstore browsing yesterday. It is much earlier in period than Downton Abbey, but should be a fascinating look as servant life nonetheless, set in the downstairs life at Longbourn, the home of Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice.

http://www.amazon.com/Longbourn-Jo-B...1524281&sr=1-1
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:03 AM
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One of Sherlock Holmes' greatest tools was the fact that he acknowledged the existence of the servant classes, and was willing to talk and mingle with them (and even take on cases for them pro bono).
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Old 02-04-2014, 11:18 AM
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Margaret Powell published a memoir, Below Stairs, about her experiences as a domestic servant. As I recall, her employment tended to be in smaller homes, nothing quite as grand as Downton, but still very interesting.
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:35 PM
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I've no more read him than I would watch that series, but the experimentalist Henry Green's Loving dealt with English servants in an Irish country house during the second world war.
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:53 PM
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Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor, by Rosina Harrison:

http://www.amazon.com/Rose-Life-Serv.../dp/0143120867

A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story, by Brenda Ashford:

http://www.amazon.com/Spoonful-Sugar...1558079&sr=1-1

Last edited by Tara57; 02-04-2014 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:25 PM
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The film Gosford Park is all about the upstairs-downstairs thing (and portrays the upstairs folk as idiots when not evil), but it's not based on a book.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
The film Gosford Park is all about the upstairs-downstairs thing (and portrays the upstairs folk as idiots when not evil), but it's not based on a book.
It was also written by Julian Fellowes.
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Old 02-05-2014, 05:26 PM
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You might enjoy Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace. I believe it was based on an actual murder mystery involving several servants in early 1800's England. Great period details; it feels like an old memoir.
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Old 02-05-2014, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
It was also written by Julian Fellowes.
What a class traitor!
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