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Country House Life : Family and Servants, 1815-1914 (Hardcover)

Author: Gerard, Jessica

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Product Overview

This is an account of the lives of the families and the servants of the British country house from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the onset of the Great War. It is a pioneering history based on contemporary records, diaries, letters, private and public autobiographies, and on the childhood recollections of living descendants. Never before have the intimacies of life below and above stairs been depicted with such clarity and vividness.
Country house family and servants were the two elites of British society and this was the period of their greatest prosperity. They were closely reliant on each other. "Our servants and we are all members of a large family, who cannot get on independently of each other," Lady Jenne wrote in 1892. The omnipresence of the servants affected every aspect of the family's behaviour and the family shared the lives of the servants: the country house was, in the proper sense of the word, a community. The power base of the nation's political establishment it was also and, as importantly, home - a tangible symbol of lineage, permanence and stability, embodying in its fabric, decoration and ritual the accumulations and memories of successive generations.
The author does not confine her attention to the great aristocracy: she gives equal weight to the lesser and the country gentry, and enlivens her account by following the fortunes of three representative families over the entire period. In the course of her investigation she finds that common stereotypes of authoritarian patriarchy, downtrodden servants and voiceless and servile women may be of questionable foundation.
The book is illustrated with rare contemporary photographs, is fully but unobtrusively referenced, has a wide-ranging bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and is comprehensively indexed. Its evocation of a style of life and of ways of living that have now largely vanished will be of equal interest to scholar, student and general reader.


Publisher Blackwell Pub
Mfg Part# 9780631155669
SKU 206830966
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 063115566X
Release Date 9/16/2008
Product Attributes
Book Format Hardcover
Number of Pages 0384
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
$155.52 + $2.75 shipping
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