A Downstairs View of Twentieth-century Britain
by Lucy Lethbridge
HD8039.D52 G776 2013
New Arrivals, 2nd Floor
I recently came across a book on the New Arrivals Island that will help fill some time during the months of waiting for the next season of Downton Abbey (view the countdown clock here!). Lucy Lethbridge writes about domestic servants and their changing status in British households during the twentieth century with a keen eye for detail and lively narration. Although more women worked in domestic service than in any other form of paid employment by the beginning of the 1930s, the number of women (and men) in service rapidly declined throughout the rest of the century. The author discusses the changes in British family life, technology, and the economy that contributed to this decline. Lethbridge, a writer living in London, relies on the voices of servants themselves, as well as their employers and evidence from popular depictions in advertising and popular culture, to construct this comprehensive account of “downstairs” life.