Household Books Published in Britain: V5 - 1800-1914 (DA)
Original Printed Text:
The Bibliography of Nineteenth Century British Cookery Books and Related Domestic Manuals Published in Britain, 1800-1914, Vol. I, pp. 438 (London: Prospect Books, 1987)
There is no single term in general use for the collection of books in this bibliography. I have called them household books because they were mainly intended as guides to various household duties, and a majority of them were also meant to be used as household reference books. Some were books for the parlour, while others were for the servants' quarters, the kitchen, the nursery or the schoolroom. A number of them were gift books designed for employers to present to servants, for mothers to give their daughters on the eve of marriage or for Sunday-school teachers to award as prizes to deserving girls from poor homes. Most were written in response to a growing demand for domestic literature, especially from women of the lower-middle class who found themselves isolated in homes which they were expected to organise.
The books included here conform to two requirements. First, their main subject is the arrangement of the home and the performance of household duties, or specific aspects of these. Secondly, their intended readership was non-professional – whether housewives, householders, servants or school pupils. The one exception applies to textbooks for teachers and trainee teachers of domestic science, which could be said to have had a professional audience but which were so closely connected with other groups of domestic science books that they could not be left out.
Every bibliographer faces the problem of what to include and what to exclude. I began with a negative definition, established in agreement with a team of colleagues. We determined that the category of 'household books' would not include any books primarily concerned with cookery, which would be treated separately. Previous bibliographers in the field (notably Bitting, Oxford and MacLean) 1 have listed household books in conjunction with cookery books, a sensible practice for the much smaller number of books published before 1800. Early cookery books often included general sections on household management and domestic medicine – a collection of receipts might easily intermingle cookery with an assortment of home remedies and recipes for perfume, polish and soap. As Virginia MacLean notes, the picture was changing by 1800 with increasing numbers of specialised texts published during the eighteenth century. There was no sudden transition: miscellaneous collections of receipts stayed popular until the late nineteenth century and many cookery books of the period contain extra material such as a chapter on 'the sickroom', although their appeal switched to a less affluent readership as the prevailing middle-class fashion changed. For the rest, the unmistakeable trends were towards greater specialisation or a more thorough and comprehensive approach. The changeover is well illustrated by Isabella Beeton's Household management published midway through the period, the supremely obvious example of a cookery book which aimed at becoming a comprehensive household manual. It is not included here because it remains primarily a cookery book, but historically it marks the development from an earlier piecemeal approach to domestic work towards a systematic elaboration of the rules and routines which governed the daily lives of middle-class women.
The new type of domestic manual became necessary because of the changes in women's domestic lives. The effects of industrialisation, the growth of the cities, colonialism and a changing class structure meant that women of all classes were presented with new definitions of their roles, and the material conditions of their lives differed considerably from those of their grandmothers. The pattern of female employment was steadily changing:
Over the period from 1841 to 1914 the greatest change in women's occupations was the rising incidence of housewifery as the sole occupation for married women. In 1851, one in four married women (with husbands alive) was employed. By 1911, the figure was one in ten. 2
Compared with her mother or grandmother, an individual woman in nineteenth-century Britain was more likely to live in a town or city, associating with a larger number of people whom she did not know well. She would own (or more accurately, as married women only acquired property rights in 1882, her husband would own) more manufactured goods and have a wider choice of furnishings, kitchen equipment, styles of furniture, clothing and foodstuffs, which would include imports from the colonies. Her surroundings would be dirtier, mainly from the use of coal as fuel resulting in a fall-out of soot indoors and a deadlier form of pollution outdoors, the notorious smogs of the cities. The high infant mortality rate did not fall until the end of the century; there were recurrent epidemics of cholera, typhoid and other contagious diseases.
The considerable work involved in maintaining those standards of comfort, cleanliness and behaviour which signified middle-class respectability fell almost entirely upon women, both as mistresses of households and as domestic servants. To compound their difficulties, the work had to be performed as unobtrusively as possible since according to the ideology of womanhood, hearth and home, a man's home was supposed to be a refuge from work, not a workplace. 3 Husbands, fathers and employers expected to find the home a tranquil haven undisturbed by signs of domestic toil, so household work had to be kept invisible – in some cases servants were even warned that they were never to be seen. 4 Architects designed houses with separate stairs, sleeping quarters for domestic staff in the attics and basement kitchens so that the invisible servant could be a reality. Servants wore decorative uniforms when they were on view to conceal their true functions. The most important strategy offered to women in the cause of concealing housework was an idea, which has outlasted the age of servants: the domestic routine. Routines kept the household running efficiently by strict timetabling which preserved the peace of the head of the family. Any woman who could afford the price of a book was offered the chance to buy domestic harmony through the ready-made household routine. The author of Advice to a young married woman () put the matter quite bluntly in a chapter on 'the management of a husband':
A man likes his meals, after a hard day's toil, nicely cooked and placed before him in a dainty manner – with snow-white table cloth, bright cutlery and clean dishes. He is entitled to this service. If the meal and its surroundings are tempting he will linger over it and enjoy it, discussing the news of the day in a pleasant way with his wife. He becomes proud of his home, and begins to realise that she is the chief source of his pride. But the man who comes from a hard day's toil to a place of squalor, received by a slatternly wife with unkempt hair, untidy dress, dirty face and hands, and words of complaint about some trivial matter with which he has really nothing to do, swallows his ill-prepared, ill-served meal, and immediately turns his thoughts towards the tavern the only place where he can obtain the repose and the congenial society which he seeks.
It is worth noting the author's insistence that domestic difficulties are 'really nothing to do' with the husband, and also the way in which the wife's work is both supposed to be invisible and is treated as if it does not exist – a twofold vanishing act. While she is exhorted to suppress all signs of her labour – dirt, any mention of her problems – only her husband is described as having performed 'a hard day's toil', although in some households the man's work would involve less manual labour than the woman's.
It is hard to overestimate the role of the household book in promoting the ideal pattern of middle-class domestic life. Women bought books in their millions seeking advice on household routines, managing servants, provisioning, decorating and furnishing their homes, marketing, planning menus and cooking, bringing up children, home nursing, entertaining and correct social behaviour. Women of all classes bought magazines as they still do a century later, but it is remarkable that compared with their importance to the publishing trade a hundred years ago household books scarcely exist now as a separate field. Cookery books and childcare manuals are as popular as ever but the market for the general household book all but vanished once middle-class women were able to find work outside their homes.
The four sections of the bibliography correspond to the major groups of household books, Domestic economy, Servants, Domestic medicine and childcare, and Etiquette. The largest category, Domestic economy, groups together general works whose topics include choosing and furnishing a home, cleaning and maintaining the home and its contents, keeping household accounts, laundrywork, the preparation and use of medicines and household provisions, the care and management of children, the duties and management of servants, household routines, entertaining and etiquette. A single work might cover all or a selection of these and might also include sections on cookery comprising up to one third of the book's entire contents. Many of the books in the Servants section cover the same subjects but are addressed specifically to servants, while others are particularly concerned with relations between servant and employer or the conditions of domestic service. Domestic medicine and Childcare are grouped together because the contents of the books overlap considerably. The Etiquette section includes books on entertaining, the rules of hospitality and general rules of social behaviour.
I have excluded a large number of books which could be classed as domestic literature but offered little or no practical advice, or else were too technical to have been written for the lay reader. Among the books which will not be found in the bibliography are books on housebuilding, architectural planning, hygiene and sanitation, commercial laundry manuals, collections of manufacturing and commercial receipts and textbooks for the medical and legal professions. I have not included religious tracts or general encyclopaedias and dictionaries.
Many books in the Domestic economy section contain material on needlework, dressmaking, gardening, husbandry, recreations and pastimes. In order to keep the definition of household books within reasonable bounds I have not included any specialised books on these subjects, which could be seen as optional additions to the essential activities of the home and in any event constitute large enough fields for research in their own right. It follows that only books on indoor domestic service will be found in the Servants section, not books which refer primarily to outdoor work or the duties of outdoor servants such as bailiffs or gardeners.
Cookery books, defined as books more than a third of whose contents relate to cookery, are not included and the reader should refer instead to the separate bibliographies of cookery books. Books on dining out, diet, nutrition, brewing and winemaking are also excluded, although these topics may appear in some general books on Domestic medicine and Domestic economy.
The subject index refers the reader to specific topics which are more narrowly defined than above, and also to different genres. Household books, far from being all of one type, came as compendiums, miscellanies, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, school textbooks, narratives, collections of receipts, anecdotes or letters, as well as in the traditional form of an advice book. Some were offshoots of magazines, some were brought out by publishers who clearly intended capturing one particular section of a lucrative market, while others simply followed on from older forms. The following notes to the four sections of the bibliography provide a more detailed account of its scope and offer a brief sketch of the genres.
Before 1800 the typical domestic economy manual was little more than a collection of receipts, sometimes coupled with exhortations to the housewife as much spiritual as practical. Most of the survivals of this genre can properly be classed as straightforward cookery books, and so relatively few appear here. The remaining domestic receipt books dealt with a wide range of subjects: Colin MacKenzie's Five thousand receipts in all the useful and domestic arts (1823) was arranged in twenty-two sections covering metallurgy, varnishes, oil and water colours, enamelling, engraving, dyeing, bleaching, cements, brewing, wines, distillation, cookery, perfumery, inks, medicine, farriery, horticulture, husbandry, rural and domestic economy, pottery, glass and miscellaneous. There were undoubtedly a number of smaller collections of receipts in common use which were cheaper and flimsier publications, and the existing copies I have been able to trace must represent only a fragment of these (James Laughton published over a hundred editions of his sixpenny pamphlet between 1830 and 1850, but only a handful appear in the bibliography). Most probably wore out through use or were thrown away, their owners not considering them worth preserving.
Some early examples of receipt books after 1800 follow a dilettante gentlemanly tradition, appealing to amateur pharmacists and experimental chemists. Unlike the great majority of domestic economy books which were written at the same time expressly for women, these compilations are addressed to their authors' fellow enthusiasts, who like them had time and money enough to amuse themselves with home-made concoctions and little experiments. The title of John Badcock's book() promises entertainment at least as much as practical information:
Domestic amusements, or philosophical recreations, containing the results of various experiments in practical science and the useful arts, applicable to the business of real life, to curious research and elegant recreation. Including numerous useful tests of adulterations in the materials that conduce to health; and an account of new and important discoveries in natural philosophy . . .
In 1810 William Pybus published A manual of useful knowledge, being a collection of valuable miscellaneous receipts and philosophical experiments, selected from various authors. He dedicated his book to 'the society instituted in London for the encouragement of arts, manufactures, and commerce', explaining that the society's design was to promote the practical knowledge and application of scientific principles amongst all classes of the community. Pybus' book hardly matches up to these serious intentions - the overall effect is of a schoolboyish enthusiasm for novelties and party tricks. The 'philosophical experiments' include 'to make a deaf man hear music', and 'how to tell a number that someone has chosen'.
In general, though, readers did have serious uses for their receipt books, which contained much useful information on preserving, distilling and brewing, told how to make cleaning agents at home which were expensive or else could not be bought, and showed how to test for impurities in food – very necessary guidance for consumers before the first Adulteration of Foods Act was passed in 1860. The receipts themselves were often international, sometimes translated from French or German originals. A few popular titles crossed the Atlantic: C. W. Alexander's The housewife's friend and family help () was first published in Philadelphia, while MacKenzie's Five thousand receipts (1823) was published there after the book's original success in Britain. Cultural differences between patterns of domestic life, styles of cooking and codes of etiquette in each country made such interchanges harder with other forms of household books.
Receipt books have had a recent revival as facsimile reprints, probably because they give such a minutely detailed glimpse of daily life and its hazards before commercial manufacturers took over almost entirely the work of producing medicines, toiletries, paints, soap powders, pickles, preserves, and the whole range of household products which were once made in the home. Reprints are marketed less on the strength of their usefulness, although many receipts remain genuinely useful, than of their entertainment value. The receipts which call so casually for quantities of poisons may well horrify and amuse a modern reader, now that most of us are no longer in the habit of mixing up our own for home use. Some cookery books, well into the twentieth century, continue to include a few general household receipts, but as fewer women needed, or wanted, to know how to make their own supplies of non-food stores the market for specialised receipt books, except as curiosities, virtually disappeared.
Dictionaries and encyclopaedias
Dictionaries and encyclopaedias came into fashion during the eighteenth century. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1755) and the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768-1771) in particular helped to establish the alphabetical reference book as a popular literary form. Before 1800 a handful of cookery books included the word 'dictionary' in their titles; after 1800 dictionaries of cookery, medical dictionaries and encyclopaedias and general domestic books with such titles as Family dictionary became more common.
Domestic encyclopaedias and dictionaries occupied an uneasy middle space between wide-ranging general works and scientific, practical cookery or medical books. Their titles often illustrated their hybrid nature, as with A. F. M. Willich's Domestic encyclopaedia (1802):
The domestic encyclopaedia; or a dictionary of facts, and useful knowledge: comprehending a concise view of the latest discoveries, inventions, and improvements, chiefly applicable to rural and domestic economy; together with descriptions of the most interesting objects of nature and art; the history of men and animals, in a state of health or disease; and practical hints respecting the arts and manufactures, both familiar and commercial.
Encyclopaedias of this early kind were destined for the private libraries of wealthy men landowners, amateur scientists, possibly some doctors and clergymen. They were highly priced and often expensively bound, either by their publishers or their purchasers (the four volumes of Willich's encyclopaedia recorded here were beautifully bound in red morocco), since they were designed as much for putting knowledge on display as for actual reference. Present-day publishers of course still advertise sets of encyclopaedias as luxury goods signifying economic and intellectual status.
While the encyclopaedia form was later taken up and reproduced in some cheaper mass versions it never attracted a large market – in general people who buy books want something they can actually read. As practical reference books, dictionaries of cookery or domestic medicine were of far more use and are still being published, while the domestic encyclopaedia lost out long ago to forms which were more specialised or else simply more readable.
I have used the term 'compendium', which does not appear in the title of any book listed, to refer to books belonging to the best-known genre, general manuals of household management whose contents are arranged by subject. The organization of this bibliography reflects to an extent the arrangement of a typical compendium, which would be subdivided into sections on general domestic economy including cookery, servants, the nursery, domestic medicine and formal etiquette, with possible additions.
At the start of the nineteenth century compendiums of domestic economy were continuations of an earlier genre, the schoolroom book. Written ostensibly for girls of most classes, they claimed to provide a complete summary education for young women who, in the prevailing view, needed to know little more than how to become a good servant or a good wife and mother. The same belief was conveyed in many eighteenth century cookery books bearing titles such as 'The whole duty of a woman'5, and some books published after 1800 which advertised themselves as containing all a woman needed to know were, likewise, simply cookery books. Others like the following example, The young woman's companion (), which combined domestic economy with reading, writing, grammar and arithmetic, made a more serious attempt to live up to their titles:
The young woman's companion; or, female instructor: being a sure and complete guide to every necessary acquirement essential in forming a pleasing companion, a respectable mother or a useful member of society. Interspersed with moral and religious essays, interesting tales, and memoirs of illustrious women. To which are subjoined, several very valuable medicinal receipts, and other useful directions, requisite for every female to whom domestic economy is a desirable object.
In common with religious tracts, 'companions' had two prospective audiences, being sold to one class of people for the supposed benefit of another. The fact that numbers of them were published and sold therefore tells us little of how they were actually received by their intended readership, although we can guess that they had their critics later educational reformers ridiculed them as epitomising the worst aspects of female education. 6 They were related to tracts in content too, preaching the spiritual values of housework and female submission and adopting the 'uplifting' tone of the average tract, as the author of the following passage is at pains to point out:
Let us observe, in conclusion, that as the Volume is intended to form a Gift Book to Young Women, however circumstanced in life, the most scrupulous care has been bestowed upon it to render it pure in tone, and healthy in object, as well as useful in purpose. [Preface, The young woman's companion (1863)]
Eventually, and mercifully, the Education Acts made such compendiums for girls obsolete, although they were to some extent replaced by domestic science textbooks.
Most compendiums published after 1850 were addressed to adult women, particularly young brides setting up home. They captured a large audience and remained steadily popular throughout the period, preserved and handed down through families. Publishers found them an ideal format: they could be sold in parts as well as in bound volumes, in cheap or de luxe editions, to suit different pockets and reach more potential readers; they lent themselves to lavish illustrations, could be compiled from a number of sources and were easy to update - new sections could always be added as women's current interests changed.
A glance at one influential book shows how a compendium could survive and adapt. J. H. Walsh's A manual of domestic economy was first published in 1856. In 1890 George Routledge and Sons brought out the final edition with the title barely changed – 'suited to families spending from £100 to £1,000 a year' was altered to 'from £150 to £1,500 a year'. There were some minor revisions but most significantly, the later edition featured coloured plates in addition to the original woodcuts: binding in new plates could modernise a book at a stroke. The arrangement of Walsh's manual is incidentally a clear guide to what the Victorians understood by 'household management' or 'domestic economy'. The sections were labelled 'books' as follows:
- Book I. – On the practice of economy.
- Book II. – The house and its accessories.
- Book III. – Furniture and furnishing.
- Book IV. – Domestic servants and their duties.
- Book V. – The supplies of the house.
- Book VI. – On the maintenance of health by the proper cooking of good food.
- Book VII. – The nursery.
- Book VIII. – Horses and carriages.
- Book IX. – Social duties of heads of families.
- Book X. – The domestic treatment of disease.
Walsh was superseded in popularity by more lavish works such as Cassell's Household Guide (1873 to 1912) and H. C. Davidson's The book of the home (1900 to 1909), produced as part-series or sets of volumes. Here the authoritative prescriptive voice was softened a little, even becoming personal at times, and the books took on a less daunting appearance based on the format used by women's magazines. These later productions also gave much more space to illustrations, using the new techniques of lithography and photography. Earlier domestic manuals usually included a small number of plates and a larger number of woodcuts and engravings interspersed with the text, especially to show carving techniques and items of furniture and equipment. With photography it was possible to accompany descriptions of sample rooms with pictures of real life interiors, and to show a series of stages in a particular task by photographing a demonstrator at work. The editors even found ways of using photographs to illustrate their sections on etiquette. The main purpose of most illustrations was still to set standards in interior design and the arrangement of food, as the engraved and coloured plates of older books had done.
One function which compendiums shared with certain domestic encyclopaedias, such as Webster's An encyclopaedia of domestic economy (1844) was that of advertising. The chapters on furniture and equipment resemble illustrated sales catalogues, with models of kitchen ranges and washing machines on display together with smaller items of kitchen ware, household and baby linen. Often price lists were given and details of where goods could be bought, but the compilers seem to have passed on their information quite impartially. Alongside the lists of necessary household equipment with price ranges to suit different incomes the compilers also provided tables of servants' wages.
Although the emphasis was still very much on home and family, compendiums published at the turn of the century and after 1900 started to include information on employment opportunities for women and gave more attention to non-domestic recreations such as cycling. The compilers tended to explain this, when explanations were offered, by citing the so-called 'surplus woman' problem. As there were more women than men in the population a large number of women were likely to remain single, and the middle-classes were beginning to see that it was no use prescribing a life of motherhood for all their daughters. The subject of emigration turns up in a number of domestic books for the same reason before she could assume her proper duties a woman, in most cases, needed to find a husband, and once her marriage prospects were less certain many domestic manuals were ready to offer advice on this score.
Social historians have turned to compendiums, generally the most comprehensive of the domestic manuals, for information about domestic life before 1914 but of course we need to remember that although they are useful sources and can reveal much about social aspirations and changing fashions, they prescribed rather than portrayed styles of living. The images of women and their households presented in them are but images, frequently highly idealised and with elements of nostalgia and social snobbery. While their influence cannot be measured, their greatest effect was probably that they spread word to the less affluent as to how wealthier families lived.
The domestic miscellany, a varied compilation of recipes, medical lore, hints on etiquette and snippets of useful or merely curious information, sprang out of the popular press which flourished in the middle of the period. Some books were reprinted straight from magazines such as 'The family friend', in 'numbers' to be collected or in bound volumes. Judicious editing could turn miscellaneous magazine material into dictionary or compendium form, but publishers often judged this not worth the trouble as haphazardly arranged reference books sold well enough. Apparently readers did not mind being surprised and wanted some fun mixed in with their facts. Unlike their more organised counterparts, miscellanies could be skimmed through or read aloud for entertainment, as well as consulted for reference. According to how its editor pieced it together, a miscellany could appear completely chaotic or show signs of order, but the index was usually indispensable. Robert Kemp Philp, the editor of the most famous miscellany, Enquire within upon everything (1856), had brisk words for critics:
If there be any among my Readers who, having turned over the pages of 'ENQUIRE WITHIN', have hastily pronounced them to be confused and ill-arranged, let them at once refer to THE INDEX, and for ever hold their peace.
The edition of 1876 has an alphabetical list of contents which reveals the scope of the book and can be taken as a model for other miscellanies, but note that although the contents are arranged alphabetically the book itself does not follow this scheme:
Adulterations of food, tests for; Beverages, preparation of, and receipts for; Bird-keeping, bee-keeping, poultry-keeping; Carving, and the general arrangements of the dinner table, tea equipage; Children, rearing and management of; Choice of food, marketing, etc.; Confectionery: cakes, jellies, sweetmeats; Commercial and monetary hints, maxims; Correct speaking, hints on writing; Decoration and ornamentation: painting, staining, gilding, etc.; Destruction of vermin, noxious animals; Dress, choice, arrangement and care of; Dyeing, scouring, cleaning, laundry operations; Emergencies and accidents, how to act in, such as cases of drowning, fire, etc.; Etiquette, forms and ceremonies of; Food of various kinds, when in season; Fuel, lighting etc., economy and management of; Household operations: carpentery [sic] mending, repairing; Indoor games and amusements; Ladies' employments: decalcomanie, diaphanie, etc.; Legal information and advice; Medical and surgical advice; Minor complaints, coughs, cramp, etc.; Miscellaneous preparations: ink, gum, cement, etc.; Outdoor sports and pastimes, croquet; Preparation of food, cooking operations; Preserving and pickling, hints on; Recreations, artistic: modelling, preparing botanical specimens, etc.; Rules of conduct: counsels, hints, advice; Sanitary precautions and regulations: air and exercise, sleep, clothing; Sauces, relishes, zests, how to prepare; Tables of insurance, interest, marketing, wages; Toilet requisites, receipts for, and the operations connected therewith; Enquire within upon fancy needlework.
There was evidently something for every member of the family, and the family Philp had in mind was not the carefully ordered household pictured in more expensive domestic manuals those employing several servants and spending 'from £100 to £1,000 a year'. To judge from the rate at which new editions were printed, the people who bought miscellanies were a ready-made market of readers, the same lower-middle-class and working-class public which was already buying cheap magazines.'7Miscellanies could cost as little as a penny or twopence, which put them within the reach of a working-class readership, and some could be had for nothing. Lever Brothers brought out their series of 'Sunlight' almanacs in the 1890s to be given away free as promotion for Sunlight soap, and many other companies found domestic miscellanies a useful place to advertise, so encouraging the supply of cheap publications.
Of all the domestic manuals, miscellanies were probably the most genuinely popular form. Evidence from contemporary sources suggests that miscellanies more than any other genre and especially Enquire Within which was head and shoulders above its rivals with a sale of more than two milllion copies - were read, used and enjoyed by a considerable cross-section of the population.
Domestic economy narratives, the original soap-operas, also derived from popular magazines and often first appeared as magazine serials. They aimed to provide household hints on budgeting, cooking and childcare within the more or less realistic framework of a story with which readers could identify. The stock characters were the young, inexperienced and incompetent wife, the husband whose patience often snapped and who sometimes even deserted his family when faced with deteriorating standards at home, and the older, wiser woman – friend, neighbour or relative – whose advice saves the day. Beneath the surface and the endless exhortations to save stale bread, get up earlier in the morning and make economical rissoles, lie deeper themes which must have haunted many women: the death of a child; bankruptcy, desertion or widowhood; losing class status and respectability which were perhaps only recently acquired, or worse still losing sexual respectability; the loneliness of a bride in her new home.
The most prolific author in this field must have been Mrs Eliza Warren, who published How I managed on two hundred pounds a year (1864), How I managed my children from infancy to marriage (1865), Comfort for small incomes (1866), A house and its furnishings (), My lady-help and what she taught me (1877), How the lady-help taught girls to cook and be useful (1879) and A young wife's perplexities (1886). She wrote several other books on needlework and on less strictly domestic issues and edited a women's magazine, The ladies' treasury, where the material for some of her books first appeared. Her work was well enough known to provoke a parody, How they mismanaged their house on £500 a year. A narrative, by 'Mr Warren' (1878), a dull and rather pointless book whose wit lies almost entirely in its title. Her critics may have sneered, but Eliza Warren's books evidently had a rapid sale and struck a chord with a particular readership among the young, urban lower-middle-class, in homes which had just begun to employ a servant or where a first baby was expected.
Eliza Warren was an experienced professional journalist who knew her market well and knew how to play on her readers' emotions in order to sell next week's installment. Her narratives were sometimes crudely melodramatic and sentimental, yet occasionally her writing achieves considerable subtlety and restraint, as in her portrayal of a young mother's grief, withdrawal and isolation after her child dies. At a time when the death of a child was a common literary theme Eliza Warren's treatment of it is unusual. Instead of investing the event with great significance, religious or otherwise, she was more concerned to show how it affected the mother's ability to cope with her domestic duties. This difference in treatment presumably arose from her concern to reflect back to her readers a recognisable picture of their own experience, not merely from her more modest claims as a writer; it is also possible that on occasions she was not writing fiction but autobiography, as indeed she claimed she was. A different kind of ambiguity hovers around aspects of her books which are today richly comic. The combination of mundane practical advice, object lessons and spiritual guidance was quite common at the time in books for the young. Many writers could be perfectly unaware that there was any humour in such juxtapositions of facts and morals, but there is no doubt that some contemporaries did find them ridiculous. It is most likely, though not entirely certain, that Mrs Warren saw nothing unserious about her index to How the lady-help taught girls to cook and be useful (1879) which included the following entries: egg sauce, to make; elephant's foot, how cooked; emigration, means of a happy future; . . . soda, why used in cooking; soles, to choose; soul, every, has its mission . . . .
Thrift was the dominant theme in narratives written by other authors, and the main function of the narrative itself was to make the advice on penny-pinching less dreary. The titles made the import of the books perfectly plain – How a schoolmistress may live upon seventy pounds a year (), Appearances: how to keep them up on a limited income (Mrs Alfred Praga, 1899), Love in a cottage, or making the most of a small income (Agatha Hodgson, (). The writers also tended to be preoccupied with the 'servant problem', interpreted variously as managing without servants altogether, advising young and inexperienced housewives on how to manage inexperienced young servant girls, or advice on how to cope with that doomed invention, the 'lady-help'.
Another small group of narratives dealt with the less tangible virtues of good housekeeping and were more akin to religious tracts. The few which are listed here, including Esther Copley's Hints for happy homes () and an anonymous work, The new home; or wedded life; its duties, cares and pleasures (1862) published jointly with the Ladies' Sanitary Association, represent a much larger number of advice books which did not offer practical hints but aimed to point out to women the advantages of fulfilling their duties as wives and mothers, and warned of the dismal fates awaiting those who failed. While women undoubtedly bought Mrs Warren's books for themselves, they may well have had these more solemn works presented to them. The more expensive and elaborate bindings tend to suggest either a slightly wealthier audience or else that they were bought as gifts.
Domestic science and domestic economy textbooks
Domestic economy as a school subject was known at various times and for different purposes as domestic science, housecraft and domestic economy. I have used 'domestic science' as a general classification as a convenient way of distinguishing textbooks from other books, since 'domestic economy' was long in use as a synonym for cookery and appeared in a great many titles of non-academic books, while 'domestic science' always had a more specialised usage.
Most of the textbooks listed here were published after 1875 and were for use in elementary schools. Before the Education Act of 1870 gave local authorities the duty of providing schooling (though school attendance was not made compulsory until 1880, and was not free until after 1891) most elementary schools were established by the two large voluntary societies, the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church (more usually known simply as 'the National'), and the British and Foreign School Society which supported undenominational religious instruction. Apart from their religious differences, elementary schools of both types taught much the same limited curriculum which was determined less by their own managers than by the government 'Code' for awarding grants to approved schools which taught approved subjects to a required standard.
In order to understand why, we need to look at the history of elementary education, and domestic economy teaching in particular. The 'Revised Code' of 1862, devised by Robert Lowe who was vice-president of the Committee of Council of Education which conducted school inspections, was an economy measure as well as an attempt to improve educational standards. It cancelled all previous maintenance grant regulations and instead gave school managers a unified grant based primarily on school attendance figures and on the results of examining the pupils in the '3 Rs' and in certain other 'class' or 'specific' subjects. This was the 'payments by results' system, which became so notorious, and which, while it may not have introduced mechanical teaching methods and a narrow curriculum into elementary schools for the first time, certainly did nothing to improve them. There were a number of subsequent modifications to the Code but the system itself was retained until 1895, and textbook titles frequently refer to particular Codes, reassuring teachers that the book's contents were in accordance with the current official requirements.
In common with other subjects, teaching in domestic economy was assessed either as a 'class subject' or as a 'specific subject'. The specific subjects were taken by older pupils between Standards V and VII and attracted larger grants per pupil, but only a minority of pupils took them or were examined in them; class subjects, as the name implies, were taught to whole classes and a set proportion of each class had to pass an examination before the grant was awarded. Domestic subjects were only supposed to be taught to girls: there is one account of a boy pupil who happened to learn up a domestic economy textbook, was examined on it but could not be counted towards the grant because of his sex. 8 Once introduced domestic subjects took over an increasing proportion of the curriculum for girls, as Anne Digby and Peter Searby9 note:
Under the Education Department's Codes for elementary schools which started in 1862, needlework became an obligatory subject for girls, and in compensation for this they were permitted a lower standard in the annual arithmetic examinations. With the growth in the range of subjects which could earn grants from the government for a school, girls tended to spend a growing proportion of their time on domestic subjects. It was possible to take plain needlework from 1875, cookery from 1882, laundry work from 1890, and domestic economy from 1894, as 'class' subjects in which the inspector assessed the whole class for grant-earning purposes. For older girls in the higher standards of the elementary school one of two optional 'specific' subjects, in which they could be examined individually after 1875, was domestic economy. In 1878 the Education Department made this a mandatory subject for girls, so that their choice of academic 'specific' subjects was curtailed severely.Not surprisingly, there is little variation between different books published during the 'payments by results' period of the Codes. The domestic economy syllabus was divided into three stages:
- Stage I. Food; its composition and nutritive value. Clothing and Washing.
- Stage II. Food; its functions. The Dwelling, warming, cleaning, and ventilation.
- Stage III. Food; its preparation and culinary treatment. Rules for health; the management of a sick room.
The books written in compliance with these requirements of the Code could be used with hardly any accompanying practical instruction and were often simply memorised by the pupils. It was at first not only usual but essential, given the lack of space, staff and equipment, for a teacher to use the demonstration method when practical cookery was introduced, with up to seventy girls at a time looking on. Conditions eventually improved but practical lessons were expensive for schools, pupils and parents alike, and there is little doubt that when girls were given practical work to do rather than simply learning the theory of domestic economy many teachers, school managers and other interested parties took the opportunity of getting their own chores performed at no cost. 10
Domestic economy teaching was introduced into elementary schools with the primary aim of improving the living conditions of the working class. There were certainly advocates of domestic training who had another aim in mind, procuring a steady supply of better-trained and willing servants, but the Education Department made plain that this was not its official policy (although they could hardly do otherwise since parents, already suspicious, would simply not have sent their daughters to school to be educated for the explicit benefit of the employing class). Support for domestic science in schools came from men and women pioneering improvements in public health, hygiene and sanitation who saw clear links between ignorance, poverty and disease, but many supporters had ideological grounds for promoting the subject. A number of writers complaining about the supposedly declining standards of housewifery in the country saw the feckless housewife as a main cause of disease and poverty and preferred to disregard her economic context. Margaret Weddell11 notes the prevalence of this attitude at a conference on domestic economy held in 1878:
It is interesting . . . to note that no twinges of conscience or feelings of responsibility pierce the complacence of the speakers at the Conference in regard to the state of slovenly squalor which they deplore in the homes of many of 'the labouring poor'. One of them emphasizes her talk on health by pointing out that illness for the poor means the danger of the germs of the disease being carried to the rich. Another tells her audience 'it is not the low rate of wages, or the tyranny of masters, or the greed of landlords which is the real root of their miseries, but thriftlessness on the one hand, and intemperance on the other, are the evil geniuses of our English households'.
Louise Creighton's exhortation to domestic economy teachers published in The economics of the household (1907) puts in a nutshell the theory that schools ought to aim to reach beyond the individual pupil – 'Behind the child you are teaching, you must see the family, behind the family, the state'.
Against this background the evangelical tone of many authors is only to be expected. Girls are repeatedly told how important it is for them to learn domestic economy, and the textbooks try to instill the right attitude as well as to impart knowledge. Jane Stoker in Home comfort: a complete manual of domestic economy for schools and colleges () cites the highest authority:
The Household is a divine institution . . . father, mother and children form the Divinely appointed household.
Mrs Wigley in Simple lessons in domestic economy () echoes Ruskin:
A woman has her own special work to do in the world . . . Every woman is a queen, and her kingdom is the home.
The Reverend Faunthorpe, author of Household Science (1883), puts it more forthrightly (the book's sub-title 'Readings in necessary knowledge for girls and young women' recalls the 'young women's companions' of earlier days although the book's contents are entirely in line with the Code):
This is the science of domestic economy; and every English girl ought to know it well, for upon girls and women depend almost entirely the domestic happiness of men, and the economical management of their earnings.
Even more bluntly, the author of Longman's domestic economy readers (1910) writes:
[Domestic economy] is a very important subject for girls to study, because all work connected with the home is woman's work.
In the same book girls are told to resolve themselves to be 'model housewives'. The message for girls from these examples, and there are plenty more like them, was that they had to learn domestic economy firstly because domestic work was their inescapable and proper role in life, and secondly because it would benefit others (men, mainly). Middle class women had of course for long been receiving the same message, but it is worth noting that at the same time that girls from working-class families were being taught in such a systematic way that their place was in the home, the schools starting up for middle-class girls were not emphasising domestic subjects at all. 12
As long as the Codes were in force, the authors of domestic science textbooks were obliged to combine some elementary science with a certain amount of basic practical instruction in the way the official syllabus prescribed. Those who criticised the syllabus frequently commented on the 'science' side of domestic economy teaching, which to some appeared unnecessarily theoretical and difficult while others found it superficial. From the turn of the century onwards it was easier for authors, and teachers, to develop domestic science teaching as they saw fit. In both Britain and America this was a period when domestic science professionals were trying hard to get public recognition for the importance of their subject, attempting to set up courses in colleges and universities as well as in high schools and wanting to establish how respectably scientific domestic science could be.13 Among many examples of the newer scientific approach were Thomas Cartwright's Domestic science: the science of domestic economy and hygiene treated experimentally (1900), Catherine Buckton's works which overlapped considerably with the related school subject of hygiene, and Domestic economy in theory and practice (1901) by Marion Bidder and Florence Baddeley, which showed how much more important the theoretical teaching of housework had become than the practical. In a prefatory note to the book, Mary Playne (President of the National Union for the Technical Education of Women in Domestic Science) advanced a new argument for teaching domestic economy to girls, based on the scientific component of the course, when she wrote:
. . . the general public may be brought by the perusal of this volume to a larger knowledge of the importance of this education for their daughters, not only from a utilitarian point of view, but also as valuable training in powers of observation, in drawing out individual energies, and in other essential mental and moral qualities.
There was inevitably a reaction to the proposal that cookery, housework and laundrywork should be taught as experimental sciences. Mary Hill's Homecraft in the classroom () took a determinedly practical approach, with illustrations of pupils polishing their own school desks, learning to wield a broom and cleaning the classroom windows. In her introduction she explains that:
The work was always approached as some aspect of home-life, never as so-called 'Domestic Science', which, alas, is frequently very doubtful science with nothing 'domestic' about it at all!
In the same year, with the outbreak of the first world war, Marguerite Fedden returned to the theme of a girl's sacred duty in Housecraft (), this time explaining that girls could serve their country best through performing their household duties and caring for their families conscientiously.
A handful of books stand out from the majority of domestic science textbooks, either because their authors were able to perceive the dreary monotony of much domestic science teaching and tried in various ways to enliven it, or because they are directed at different age-groups. Mrs Wigley's domestic economy readers for younger girls used narratives to present the necessary information in what she hoped will be an entertaining way; these books also had the advantage of doubling as reading books for ordinary lessons in reading. A Scottish manual, Domestic economy for the use of schools (1878) used the catechism form, and as the following extract shows was influenced by the religious model not only in its teaching style:
- Q.What is 'Domestic economy'?
- A.The wise management of a household.
- Q.For what purpose did God create woman?
- A.That she might be a help meet for man.
- Q.Can a woman be a help meet for man without having a knowledge of domestic economy?
- A.NO; every woman ought to know how to make a home comfortable.
Mary Headdon's Household object lessons (1886) was intended for infants in kindergarten, and in 1887 she put to the Cross Commission on Elementary Education the suggestion that three-year old girls in Board Schools should be taught to do household chores in time to music, in order to learn to enjoy them and so that they would not see domestic service as 'a life of drudgery and degradation'.14 The idea was not adopted. At the other end of the scale the editors of Household administration: its place in the higher education of women (), Alice Ravenhill and Catherine Schiff, turned their attention to training adult women with proposals that housewives should learn economics, bacteriology and 'sanitary science' in order to perform their tasks with greater efficiency.There is evidence that domestic science teaching in elementary schools was resented by pupils and, to an even greater extent, by their parents. From the comments of many participants in domestic economy conferences, it is clear that parents did have grounds for their suspicion that elementary education was going to be used as domestic service training. Newsholme and Scott (1894) wrote that:
Teachers should, when possible, advise mothers to encourage their daughters to become good domestic servants in preference to entering upon indifferent callings which frequently entail late hours, injury to health and exposure to temptation.
While the textbooks themselves generally do not give such explicit directions, it is quite usual to come across references to the value of domestic training not only for a girl's future life as a housewife and mother, but as a servant. Writing in Our dwellings healthy and unhealthy: addressed to girls attending the Leeds Board Schools Catherine Buckton seemed not to see any difference:
The decennial census returns of 1881 tell us that the number of females employed in domestic service in England is no less than 1,250,285, and besides these returns we must not forget to include the 1,200,000 and more wives and mothers who are domestic servants in their own houses.
Even when reformers advanced the argument – hardly any more acceptable to those on the receiving end – that domestic training in schools would improve the appalling standards of working-class homes, they were conscious of the ultimate benefits to themselves as employers of servants. The poet and playwright Augusta Webster went to the second Domestic Economy Congress, held in Manchester in 1878. She noted in A housewife's opinions that the papers read at the Congress were without exception in favour of domestic economy in elementary schools (it was made a compulsory subject for girls later that year). Her comments are interesting as a clear account of the arguments for and against domestic economy teaching, which she saw not as the teaching of a new science but as an unfortunate necessity which ought eventually to disappear from the curriculum.
As to teaching household processes in the elementary schools, for elementary education it certainly is an evil that girls whose only opportunities of intellectual training are those given them at these schools, and whose school career is necessarily timed to terminate while they are still children, should have a larger portion of their school hours appropriated to household arts which could better be learned with opportunities of household practice. But, on the other hand, the evil of the common ignorance, slovenliness, and indifference as to these important home technicalities, of working women is so great to themselves and to the nation that something must be sacrificed to impress them with a respect for housewifery. If the mother cannot teach needlework the schoolmistress must; if the girls have no chance anywhere else of seeing clean sensible cooking they must have it 'demonstrated' in class-rooms. It would be over sanguine to expect the pupils to learn much serviceably in such a way, but one thing they will certainly learn, and that is that it would be creditable to them to excel in such matters. Leaving school with this feeling and not entirely ignorant of processes, with, too, the need for care and cleanliness drilled into their minds, many of them will enter service anxious to improve; and domestic service thus rehabilitated could not but become their best training school in household skills. Better trained servants, marrying, will be better trained managers of their husbands' homes, and their children will have in them better patterns of housewifery. And so improvement may make improvement till home and domestic service are, as they ought to be, sufficient without turning schoolrooms into kitchens and planning colleges to train cooks and seamstresses . . .
Apart from the general resentment such attitudes incurred in parents of working-class girls, there were many instances when girls were held up as examples to their mothers, thus angering parents (mothers more than fathers, who sometimes did approve), as Helen Sillitoe15 notes:
the early exponents of the subject often created a delicate situation between the home and the school by treating their pupils as mere channels of information to be passed on to their mothers.
The prevailing concern about public health, sanitation and contagious disease influenced the domestic economy syllabus and also led to a separate subject, hygiene, being taught in schools. I have included here those which were mainly domestic, such as Catherine Buckton's Our dwellings healthy and unhealthy (1885), and a number of laundrywork textbooks such as Mrs Black's Practical laundry work () for pupils, and the classic work for teachers A teacher's manual of elementary laundry work (1891) by Fanny Calder and E. E. Mann. To complete the picture we need to remember not only the textbooks on hygiene, but also the much larger number of school cookery books which were published.
Later books on domestic economy were mostly written by women, who often listed such credentials for authorship as qualifications in cookery and domestic science at one of the training colleges, and teaching experience. In contrast some earlier male authors, who were professionals at school textbook compilation rather than in domestic economy, based their authority on their clerical status or on their scientific expertise in other fields. Men who wrote domestic economy textbooks in the early days of the subject William Tegetmeier is one example - did not always wish to acknowledge their work in later years when domestic science had become, at all levels, a field for women only.
Rural domestic economy
A small number of domestic economy books published during the first part of the nineteenth century differed from other manuals because they specialised in giving advice to country dwellers, both to the landowning and professional classes and to agricultural labourers. Rural domestic economy concentrated more on tasks which needed a greater amount of space and time, such as brewing and bread-making, curing ham, attending to livestock and growing food crops. The actual differences between town and country life partly account for these manuals, but they also had the aim, often directly expressed, of persuading country women to return to the earlier practices of working at home for their families, rather than buying provisions elsewhere with the money they or their husbands had earned. The manuals of rural domestic economy thus tend to be even more nostalgic than most, although it is difficult to assess how closely they related to the lifestyles of their intended readers. The best known, then and now, is William Cobbett's Cottage economy (1822) which was published in seventeen editions in the nineteenth century and reprinted twice this century. It is a frankly nostalgic and polemical work which certainly influenced a number of other authors and probably a wider section of the wealthier classes, but whether it influenced the agricultural labouring class, as Cobbett intended, is more doubtful.
Cobbett was already too late, in 1822, with his complaints that brewing and bread-making were giving way to tea-drinking and potato-eating, for these changes in the lives of the rural working-class had been well underway for decades.16 His attacks on these new habits were prompted in all likelihood by his need to find an explanation for the poverty of agricultural workers and by his fears about the changing role of women. He declared that when women stopped baking and brewing but instead made tea and cooked potatoes the end results were poverty, enfeeblement, idleness and even immorality - compared with the cottage housewife of former times whom he describes both sentimentally and lustfully as having the sweat of labour on her brow, a wife who could not brew and bake was hardly worth her keep:
Every woman, high or low, ought to know how to make bread. If she do not, she is unworthy of trust and confidence: and, indeed, a mere burden upon the community.
Give me for a beautiful sight, a neat and smart woman, heating her oven and setting her bread! And if the bustle does make the sign of labour glisten upon her brow, where is the man that would not kiss that off, rather than lick the plaster from the cheek of a duchess?
Whatever influence Cobbett had, stemmed from this style of rhetoric rather than from the practical instructions in Cottage economy which are on the vague side. In later editions he included his wife's instructions for using Indian corn (maize flour) as a staple, but despite his own enthusiasm there is no evidence that his advice was followed by his readers.17
The writers who used Cobbett as a source tend also to have written books preaching to the labouring class the virtues of an old- fashioned, thrifty style of life. Esther Hewlett, later known as Esther Copley, was the author of Cottage comforts (1825) which also aimed to improve the standard of living in rural working-class homes; it is no coincidence that her other works are virtually religious tracts. But the heart of the problem for such authors, with their fierce resistance to change, was that the women who were carrying on with the traditional chores of the cottage wife did not need their advice. For those who had abandoned them, whether through choice or necessity, there was no going back.
Domestic economy for the working-class, and thrift books
Books written for working-class readers fall into four categories: instructions to servants, domestic science textbooks for use in elementary schools, books on rural domestic economy addressed to the agricultural labouring class, and advice books which are closely related to tracts. Books in the last group, which I shall discuss here, were often intended to be given away as improving literature by visitors to the poor, Sunday school teachers, employers and other representatives of middle and upper class interests.
As I have only included advice books with at least an element of practical instruction, these domestic manuals should be seen as just a part of the large amount of prescriptive and moralising literature aimed at the poor by the better-off classes in society, preaching the virtues of temperance, docility and thrift. Augusta Anne Pitney's Cottage economy, by a cottager (1855) is a rare example of a work in which the author meets her readers on equal terms – she was a former pupil-teacher, and the book includes three lectures addressed to the girls of the Westbourne National School. A much more typical class difference between writer and reader is starkly revealed in the title of another work, A few hints for home happiness and comfort, addressed chiefly to village girls on their leaving school. By a lady (1860). Ladies assumed that their rank required them to go into the homes of the poor in person to offer criticism and advice, so penning a book of hints could have been seen as an act of kindness and condescension (in the original well-meaning sense of the word) or simply as the natural duty of a gentlewoman.
John Walters, the Rector of Norton and author of Thrift lessons (1881), hoped that his book would prove useful for prize-givings in elementary schools, mothers' meetings and free libraries, 'and for distribution by those employers of labour who have at heart the moral and social improvement of their workmen'. It evidently never occurred to Walters that the workmen themselves might well have suspected their employers of having other motives for presenting them with a manual of advice on how to eke out a small income. Thrift as a virtue in itself, rather than as a dreary necessity, was a doctrine adopted by some middle-class men and women as well as preached by them to the working-class, and a number of books on saving money appeared throughout the period. Savings schemes were becoming more widespread and general books on the philosophy of 'self-help' were popular - Samuel Smiles' book of that name was published in 1859. As early as 1824 William Kitchiner's The housekeeper's ledger included a tirade against feckless spending, while in the next century Josiah Oldfield's How to live cheaply (1906) was based on a collection of readers' letters on the theme of thrift. Yet while those who had less need to scrimp could gain satisfaction from their efforts at economising, even take pride in them, domestic economy reformers found to their continual exasperation that the poor who presumably most needed thrift lessons were unenthusiastic about them. Their frustration at the incurable habits of the poor often shows through, and to emphasise how important their advice was they frequently accompanied it with moral tales contrasting the happy homes of the thrifty, temperate and deserving poor with the squalor and misery of the thriftless.
From what authors said of their own works, it is evident that compared with the more mundane practicality of manuals for the middle-classes, books for working-class women could have a greater usefulness by far, offering to rescue the poor from unhappiness and degradation. This is especially true for books which are almost temperance tracts such as J. M. Philp's How to make home happy (1864). The message is spelled out in a loftier way in Mrs Phebe Lankester's The national thrift reader () which is 'illustrated by lives of great and good men and women, who by their perseverance and thrift raised themselves from insignificance to be models of excellence for the present generation'.
Women, especially young women in service whose reading matter might be scrutinised and censored, may have read these improving manuals when they were unable to read much else, and may have gained some amusement and rather less practical help from them. Religious tracts could similarly be read and enjoyed simply as cheap or even free reading matter, and by no means all the recipients of tracts and advice books would have resented their tone or content. The fact remains that most of the domestic economy books for working-class women were intended for readers who were virtually a captive audience, while the books bought by them and presumably read voluntarily by them were not so much these works expressly designed for the improvement of the working class, as the much livelier and more entertaining miscellanies.
Indian household management
British women living in India and in other parts of the world under British imperial rule found that ordinary domestic manuals were of little use to them. To meet their needs a number of specialised books were published both overseas and in Britain, dealing with Indian household management, childcare and medicine in other climates, and preparations for travelling abroad. India was the destination for most of the thousands of British women travelling to find or join husbands in outposts of the Empire, although the 'Hardships abroad' section in the anonymous book Hardships made easy () even had advice for travellers going to China. Before they set sail women could find out what to expect on the journey and what to take with them from a number of guides such as The Englishwoman in India (1864) or Mrs Eliot James' A guide to Indian household management (), which advised on outfits and packing as well as on bungalows, furnishing, servants and cookery. The best and probably most important of these manuals was Steel and Gardiner's The complete Indian housekeeper and cook (1890), first published in Bombay in 1888 with a final twelfth edition appearing in 1921.
Books on colonial household management differed from the books for women resident in Britain in three respects. First, and most obviously, they supplied information about local conditions – prices, foodstuffs, materials, an essential basic vocabulary, recipes suited to the foods available and to a lesser extent to the climate. Elizabeth Garrett's Morning hours in India (1887) included tables of Indian weights, an Indian ready reckoner, tables of rents and wages and a calendar for growing fruit and vegetables in the Punjab. Most books had a sizeable section on Indian cookery.
The next major difference concerned the status of expatriate British women. Colonial wives could afford, and were expected, to employ a much larger number of servants than they would have had in Britain. Their role as housewives included less routine domestic work and more supervision. The manuals gave general advice on how to manage 'natives' and deal with the linguistic and cultural divide, besides detailing the various duties of all the servants in the household. Flora Annie Steel and Grace Gardiner, authors of The complete Indian housekeeper and cook, expressed a common attitude when they wrote that 'the Indian servant is a child in everything save age, and should be treated as a child; that is to say, kindly, but with the greatest firmness'. Similar stereotypes abound in their chapters on servants and in books by other authors.
The last difference for women was the choice they faced if they were mothers, between keeping their children with them or sending them to England to boarding schools or to be brought up by relatives. Bringing up children in India and in other colonial societies was generally reckoned to be more hazardous than in Britain, and in tropical regions the infant mortality rate was indeed higher, especially in southern Africa, than the already high rate for babies born into the British climate. Steel and Gardiner recommended different courses of action in their chapters 'On the hills' and 'In the plains', Steel arguing that it was more important for wives to remain with their husbands in the plains during the hottest weather, with their children safely back in England, while Gardiner described how the annual trip to the hills enabled her to bring up a large family without prolonged separations from her children.
For girls brought up in India, Lilian Sawtell's Outlines of domestic science: a manual for Indian readers (1912) aimed to teach points of household management relevant to 'special Indian needs and conditions'. In her preface Lilian Sawtell complained that 'so far the schools in India have been dependent upon books dealing with Domestic Science only from the point of view of people living in England'. In many ways it is true to say that colonial household management was always seen from the point of view of people living in England, even when authors had spent twenty years or more as residents elsewhere. In combination with advice on how to adapt to local conditions manuals offered encouragement to women not to adapt beyond a certain point, but instead to keep up at all costs the normal routines and living standards of any middle-class British household. Steel and Gardiner went so far as to deny emphatically, as they themselves put it, the common assertion that housekeeping in India had to run on different lines from housekeeping in England - 'some modification, of course, there must be, but as little as possible'. In their way manuals on colonial household management are as curious now for their similarities with other manuals evidence of the British refusal to adapt – as they are for their unique differences.
The books listed here are of course only those published in Britain. Many more manuals for English-speaking households abroad were published elsewhere.
Furnishing and interior decoration
In the latter part of the nineteenth century interior decorating became an occupation open to a few women as professional employment, while for most middle-class women the changes in fashion known as the 'aesthetic movement', the 'artistic homes' movement and later as 'art nouveau' meant at the least a greater self-consciousness about how their homes were furnished. Compendiums and general domestic economy books gave more space to descriptions and illustrations of furniture and schemes of decoration than they had earlier in the period, and some books specialised in advising housewives and householders on how their homes should look. Hard work, efficiency and devotion were no longer enough; women also needed 'good taste' if they were to succeed at home-making. Jenni Calder18 suggests why this happened when it did:
With a rapidly growing middle class and a fluid situation it became increasingly important to know who and what people were. Where people lived, how people lived, and the things they had in their houses were the main guides. The aristocracy did not need to worry so much about these things, because they had their titles and most of them had their land, and many of them had splendid houses that needed little embellishment to convince people of their worth. But the newly rich especially did need to worry, because everyone else was poised to categorize their social status according to the way they conducted themselves. 'Good taste' became a means of distinguishing the deservedly middle class from the vulgar, those who were sensitive about their responsibilities from those who simply had a lot of money to throw around.
The books listed here which are especially concerned with furnishing and decoration represent a larger body of literature which was not purely domestic or aimed at women exclusively, but they show where the ideas of such influential designers as William Morris and Charles Eastlake intersected with the aspirations of a section of the middle-class.
Jane Panton was a professional interior decorator who wrote a number of books on home-making, including the revealingly titled Homes of taste (1890) and Suburban residences and how to circumvent them (1896). There was enough demand for such works for the publishers Macmillan and Company to bring out a series entitled 'Art at home', which included Suggestions for house decoration (1878) by Lady Mary Anne Barker and The dining-room (1878) by Mrs M. J. Loftie. These were books which in effect were explaining how to live, not just how to furnish and decorate a home Florence Gardiner's Furnishings and fittings for every home () for example went well beyond the apparent intention of the title, giving advice on household expenditure, entertaining and housekeeping routines. In contrast Charles Eastlake's Hints on household taste (1868), one of the original publications which set out to reform middle-class taste at a time when Victorian living rooms were filling up with indifferently made and carelessly bought clutter, was not much more than a detailed exposition of styles of furniture, wallpaper patterns and architectural design, but it was an important book which had a considerable influence on other writers who borrowed from his illustrations, descriptions and comments on good taste.
Specialised books on furnishing and decoration were never published in large numbers but set against the small minority of readers who actually bought such books, a much larger number of women were able to follow the latest ideas in general domestic economy books and in magazines. As more housewives were alerted to the possibilities of self-expression through interior design and to the status implications of 'good taste', the market changed as it expanded. Magazines took over from books to provide a less static format for communicating the fashions in design which were now changing with ever increasing speed.
Laundrywork was in a sense an optional extra to the work of a middle-class household - it had to be done, but it did not have to be done at home. Until laundrywork became a school subject most laundry manuals were either technical works for the trade or instruction books for laundrymaids in private homes. One early publication, William Tucker's The family dyer and scourer (1818) was written by a professional for the use of those families who had no commercial laundry nearby and were obliged to do the work themselves, but it was clearly more usual for the heavy work of washing clothing and furnishings to be 'sent out' or 'put out'. Later in the century tables of servants' wages show that servants expected to be paid more if they had to do laundrywork, and laundry is usually itemised separately in sample household accounts. As late as 1910 Maud Taylor wrote in a chapter on 'Domestic arts' published in Ravenhill and Schiff's Household administration (1910) that:
The question of the position of the modern woman towards laundry-work seems to have resolved itself into one of income. If she can pay for the services of a steam laundry, she does so. In the United Kingdom it is estimated that there are 30,000 public laundries, but we have yet to find one that can produce a list of charges within reasonable limits of a small income . . .
Without servants, and unable to pay commercial laundry charges, middle-class housewives eventually had to take on the work themselves at home, and at the end of the nineteenth century enough new inventions were coming on to the market to make laundrywork a less heavy and time-consuming chore.Laundry wrinkles, for the house and factory () and Laundry management: a handbook for use in private and public and laundries (1889) could not have been published much later, when the techniques and equipment used in commercial laundries and in private homes had less in common, but they show that washing at home was still seen as a considerable undertaking. For working-class women the complicated instructions in specialised manuals must have been largely irrelevant, but nevertheless girls in elementary schools were taught all the intricacies of laundrywork as a special subject and were obliged to study 'washing' as an integral part of the domestic economy syllabus. Wealthier families with enough space and enough servants to have their laundry done at home were always able, throughout the period, to find whatever instructions they needed in the relevant sections of domestic economy compendiums or in manuals addressed to their maids.
In this brief survey I have attempted to provide a historical context for domestic economy books published between 1800 and 1914, but it must now be clear that many authors themselves tried to provide their readers with a social and moral context. They were often quite conscious that their role was not only to convey practical information but also to inculcate moral precepts and correct attitudes. Of course authors of domestic economy books were far from alone in this. Even without taking into account other sources such as sermons and other religious writing, newspapers, magazines, novels, songs and poems, women were exhorted to the proper fulfillment of their duties through an extensive collection of general advice books which are hardly represented here. The books of Sarah Stickney Ellis19 are among the best known, but in the course of researching this bibliography I encountered dozens more, often anonymous, writers who set out to explain to women their proper duties as daughters, wives and mothers.
The framework for the moral view of a woman's duties at the start of the nineteenth century was provided by the Christian churches, as it had been for centuries before. Wifely submission, which was divinely ordained or at least insisted upon by church and state alike, entailed that women had certain domestic duties and were obliged to discharge them as creditably as possible. A bad housewife was a bad wife; a bad wife was a bad woman. Authors of advice manuals used religious terminology as a matter of course and for authorities of every kind it was in any case quite natural for women to be addressed in those terms and reminded of their obligations, both religious and marital, whatever the context. They needed only to warn women against failing to please, through incompetence, wastefulness or wifely insubordination.
In the second half of the century authors faced a different kind of threat to their system of values. They still had to caution women against failing to please their husbands, but what if women simply refused to please men, and rejected the values of domesticity in favour of alternatives such as education and work outside the home? Religious precepts did not disappear entirely from domestic manuals but the rhetoric authors tended to use underwent a change, becoming more persuasive and less dictatorial, offering rational arguments for women to aim at nothing more than being good housekeepers or else painting enticing pictures of the happy homes it was women's lot to create. From Mrs Ann Taylor's Practical hints to young females, on the duties of a wife, a mother, and a mistress of a family (1815) to Mrs Hallie Miles' The ideal home and its problems (1911), the change was from an explicitly moral stance to a sentimental view of the domestic ideal, although both books are in a sense moral treatises in which practical hints figure almost as mere illustration.
From 1800 to 1914 so much had changed that the domestic economy ideal could no longer be taken for granted - even if war had not intervened, the role of women could not have remained as static as their many advisers wished it to be. The words of Mrs Stallard, author of The house as home (1913) may hark back to the previous century but they are also surely a response to a new uneasy world in which women are loudly questioning the certainties she wants them to accept:
Man never was, and never will be, a home-maker; that greatest of all powers, to my mind, is vested solely in woman. The delicate construction of her mind can alone grasp the importance of trifles, and master the multifarious details which convert a house into a home, not the ordinary place where people live, but that holy of holies whose inmates are clad in invincible armour for the world's fray, and whose influence stretches easily to the far corners of the earth and reaches out towards generations yet unborn.
Only one real distinction is possible between the work performed by domestic servants and the work of the housewife: domestic work was paid for when carried out by servants, but family members doing the same work were unpaid.20 If she could afford a servant, the mistress of the household would undertake the lighter work herself and assign the dirtier, heavier chores to her servant. In other respects, the way work was shared between mistress and servant must have varied considerably from household to household, and even from day to day. Manuals, and chapters within general works on the management and duties of servants, described ideal arrangements. The actual arrangement of a household depended on the experience and competence of the servant, who was often untrained and very young – although the same might be said for her mistress; on the number and ages of children in the family, the health and strength of mistress and servant, employers' expectations, and not least the wages they could afford to pay. Domestic manuals and cookery books provided receipts and instructions for use by both mistress and servant, regardless of whether they specified (as some did) who was supposed to do the work. As for books specifically for and about servants, even those which were not obviously moral tracts were never simply neutral instruction books. They set standards of behaviour and efficiency for both servants and mistresses which many households can never have achieved.
A myth has grown up about domestic life before 1914, when every housewife had apparently ample leisure and a house full of servants.21 It is a myth which domestic manuals themselves contributed to, with their ranking orders of maids and footmen and detailed enumerations of the duties of each. Yet as Theresa MacBride points out in The Domestic Revolution,22 most middle-class households employed no more than one or two servants, and a sizeable proportion did not employ any. Most domestic servants were young women who saw their occupation as temporary, and who worked in isolation or with a single other servant. The faithful old family retainer, who appeared in idealised form in both fiction and domestic literature,23 did exist, as did the wealthy household employing a very large staff, but they were very far from typical. I have already suggested that domestic manuals should be used cautiously as evidence of how their readers lived. Books dealing with domestic servants, particularly the manuals which list their duties, are especially likely to give a misleading and one-dimensional account of their subject unless set against a wider context.
Given that there were no tasks performed exclusively by servants, that few learned their trade from books, and that some were illiterate,24 the market for practical books aimed solely at servants must have been small. Samuel and Sara Adams' The complete servant (1825) was moderately well known and yet was never reprinted.25 The authors described themselves as servants: the preface tells us that
The author, educated in a foundation school, entered service as a footboy, in 1770, and during fifty years he served successively as groom, footman, valet, butler and house-steward. His wife began the world as a maid of all work, then served as housemaid, laundry-maid, under-cook, housekeeper and lady's maid, and finally, for above twenty years, as housekeeper in a very large establishment.
The range of experience claimed by the authors sounds rather too convenient to be true, but without further evidence we cannot know whether the virtuous duo actually existed or were the publishers' invention. The story of their successful careers is probably more a moral fable of virtue and effort rewarded than a literal account. Their brief autobiography serves to transform the book from a guide detailing the duties, and correct behaviour, of various ranks 'from the housekeeper to the servant of all-work, and from the land-steward to the foot-boy' into something more alluring: an example for the ambitious. The complete servant implied that a rewarding career in domestic service was a possibility for astute men and women with the necessary knowledge and diligence to work their way upwards.
The complete servant was followed in 1830 by a similar but anonymous book The servant's guide and family manual, which also listed classes of servants together with their duties. Its frontispiece showed types of coronet and mitre worn by the secular and clerical nobility, with the advice that 'a knowledge of their distinctions will be useful to the reader'. There could hardly be a clearer message about the status servants could - indirectly, admittedly - aspire to, although in practice there cannot have been many servants who needed to know how to tell a duke from an earl by correctly identifying their headgear.
Charles Pierce went even further in The household manager (1857), flattering the reader with references to royalty and banquets rather than mere nobles and dinners. The household manager, very much influenced by French styles of domestic arrangement as even the somewhat un-English title reveals, was addressed to upper servants in upper-class households. In common with The complete servant and The servant's guide his book gave prominence to menservants and their duties. Employing menservants was in itself a mark of status, but their numbers were diminishing throughout the period. There were proportionately fewer men employed as domestic servants in the nineteenth century than in the eighteenth, and women servants were of course overwhelmingly in the majority. As their critics noted,26 although menservants commanded higher wages and in general enjoyed a higher status than their female counterparts, they were often employed for decorative rather than useful purposes. It was easier, then, for those manuals which concentrated on the duties of menservants to overlook the drudgery of domestic service and present it as a potentially glamorous occupation.
One interesting feature of these general servants' manuals is the additional material the publishers supplied to turn them into all-purpose reference books for the servants' hall. The complete servant contained tables of fares for hackney carriages, sedan chairs and watermen, as well as an appendix of laws relating to servants, while The servants' guide provided a more extensive assortment of information including the cost of sending a letter and the times of the mail coaches. The general servants' manuals aimed at larger establishments described the duties of different classes of servant, down to the lowliest, within one book. There were also a number of specialised manuals for separate classes of servants, produced either as parts of a series or as guides for young women entering service. Among the earliest were the Guides to Service published by Charles Knight between 1838 and 1848, which have been attributed to Harriet Martineau.27 They presented a soft-focus and altogether unrealistic picture of the working lives of maidservants, who were shown whiling away sunny afternoons with some pleasant sewing as they sat in a country garden, with no mention of overwork or dark basements to spoil the idyll. A later series, Beeton's domestic service guides ([1871?]), were published very cheaply and included 'general information in engaging and leaving situations', making the little books more obviously useful to servants themselves. Other guides, such as those included in the Houlston's Industrial Library series ( and ), and the Finchley Industrial Schools' manual Household work () were meant to be studied by young people in training for work who were in technical or vocational institutions, rather than in private homes.
The catechism was a popular nineteenth-century method of instruction for children and for servants too, who were often viewed, and spoken of, by their employers as requiring to be treated like children. Household work was not alone amongst servants' manuals in being written as a catechism. A Catechism for servants was published in Bath in 1843, and the religious writer Esther Hewlett published a Catechism of domestic economy in 1851.
The authors of such books no doubt believed that girls who learnt their Christian catechism at Sunday school could be expected to learn their future occupations in the same way, and the closed format of these instruction books added its own message, reinforcing the idea that domestic servitude for some was divinely ordained and inevitable. There is some evidence that in addition to their use in schools, mistresses were expected to use servants' catechisms for training their own servants. The Gentlewoman (1864), which was primarily a lady's guide to etiquette and was not a manual for servants at all, included a catechism which a maid would be required to memorise. The 'gentlewoman' would then enact the schoolmistress role and examine her servant, as the following extract shows:
- Q.How should soup be made?
- A.The meat should be put in a chemically clean saucepan, in cold water, as nearly air tight as possible, and simmered at a temperature of 205 to 210 deg. If the meat is suffered to boil at 212 deg. all the volatile goodness escapes, and the soup is often rendered both empyreumatic and ammoniacal. It is important that the soup should be carefully skimmed during its cookery.
With its pseudo-scientific jargon, this particular catechism had more of a schoolroom flavour than Household work which was specifically 'prepared for the use of the National and Industrial Schools of the Holy Trinity, at Finchley'. The catechism in Household work was written in relatively simple language, although it was also minutely detailed, as in this example:
- Q.What is your method of cutting and laying the bread?
- A.I cut the crust from the loaf – rather more than an inch in thickness; and if it be a four-pound loaf, I divide the round into six pieces. The bread I lay on the left hand of each person, that it may not interfere with glasses, which are on the right.
- Q.Then where do you put the loaf, in case the company should require more bread?
- A.On the sideboard, ma'am.
It is clear from its preface that Household work was not published solely for use in the training schools. The author explains that:
In this little volume here produced, it is the desire of the writer, with equal plainness, simplicity, and love of economy, to lead the young female servant, and to assist her mistress in leading her, through a course of duties in the respective grades of Maid-of-all-work, House and Parlour Maid, and Laundry Maid.
Whether the servants' catechisms were actually used in the way suggested is of course another matter, but given what we know of servants' levels of literacy and the inherent difficulties of teaching practical tasks through rote-learning, it is hard to imagine them being used as anything other than last resorts by desperate and unskilled mistresses. Telling your servant what to do was a far less onerous way of training her, after all, and even in households where neither mistress nor servant knew what ought to be done there were easier ways to find out.
These few vocational books published mainly for the benefit of young girls entering service were greatly outnumbered by the tracts published on their behalf by organisations like the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK). As I have excluded books with wholly religious or moral content such texts are vastly underrepresented here. They consisted typically of a simple story with a moral ending, illustrating the fate awaiting a servant who went astray in her behaviour, or alternatively the rewards awaiting one who performed her work well and behaved impeccably. Good servants make good places () is one example of this genre, written as a narrative supposedly told by an older woman to a young girl about to go into service. Going to service () was 'addressed to the girls of the training-house for servants' and was not quite a tract, but a servants' conduct book with advice on manners, demeanour and general behaviour. Many such books were specifically intended as gifts to girls starting in service, but in any case tracts were widely available and were given out by the SPCK and other religious bodies on every possible occasion, not only to all who wanted them but more pressingly, to those who did not.28 More expensive publications such as Hints to domestic servants (1854) channelled their exhortations through employers who took the spiritual improvements of their servants seriously enough to make the book required reading, or listening, at family prayers.
Practical manuals for servants usually contained at least an element of religious instruction or advice on morally correct behaviour. As an integral part of their training servants were expected to learn their 'place' as subordinates, if they did not already know it. From Truslers' domestic management (1819), written by the clergyman John Trusler, through to Isabella Cowan's The high estate of service (1898), authors invoked Biblical authority to show that the subordination of servants was divinely ordained. In The servant's behaviour book (1859), the author who used the wheedling pseudonym 'Mrs. Motherly' offered an ingeniously different justification for the inferior status of servants, explaining that a servant should never speak to her mistress until first spoken to if it was not absolutely necessary:
Ladies have been educated in a very different manner to you . . . and know a good number of things about which you know nothing. It is not likely that you can have anything to say that will amuse or interest a lady. When she talks to you, it is in kindness, and all the pleasure of the talk is on your side . . .
Beneath the apparent certainties of such texts there is something wistful: presumably 'Mrs. Motherly' had encountered servants who had not learnt their place and persisted in starting conversations with their social superiors. Commands and threats, whether material or spiritual, sometimes gave way to entreaties: if only servants would be content with their lot, all would be harmonious. In this spirit M. J . Loftie's Comfort in the home (1895) asks servants to understand their employers' desire for a quiet, comfortable life, and to alter their behaviour accordingly.
From early in the nineteenth century until well into the twentieth a growing number of books, pamphlets, magazine and newspaper articles addressed themselves to the 'servant problem', as it was known. The 'servant problem' was in fact not one problem but several, and could more accurately be described as the 'employers' problem'. The phrase most commonly referred to the fact that the demand for skilled servants willing to work for low wages exceeded the supply.29 This shortage of cheap skilled labour gave rise to various other complaints: that servants did not know their trade, would not stay any length of time in one situation but were prone to leave if offered higher wages elsewhere. From the servants' point of view, which surfaced in print much less often, the problems were different: the legal power their employers had over them, long hours, poor working and living conditions, and not least the fact that a servant dismissed by her employers faced homelessness and might be forced into prostitution, or else be destitute.
One frequently cited solution to the 'servant problem' was the establishment of more training schools. Thomas Baylis set out the broad outline of such a solution in The rights, duties and relations of domestic servants (1857):
Training schools for servants might advantageously be established in connection with national schools, parish unions, and other institutions for the education of that class of children from which servants are generally taken . . . The little extra trouble or expense which may be thereby occasioned, should not be an obstacle to the improvement of that numerous class on whose efficiency and good conduct domestic comfort not a little depends.
Baylis mentioned two such schools already in existence, which relied on benevolent donations. The Industrial Female Home in Hackney had accommodation for twenty inmates (sic) who were servants without 'characters' or references. They were supposed to stay for at least a year, making bread and working in the laundry to augment the Home's income. For each girl 'a payment of 3s 6d per week is expected . . . from the friends or benefactors, with supply of suitable clothing'. As these girls were already seen to have erred and were being rescued from prostitution the Home was an unlikely model for widespread training schemes. The other school Baylis described, St. John's School, was set up in 1842 for any child of anyone who could pay and gave permission, starting below the age of six.
There were two obvious difficulties with these schemes: finding recruits, and paying for them. Mrs. Elliot James, in Our servants (1883) neatly proposed an alternative scheme whereby orphans and paupers could be 'boarded out' in the homes of volunteer mistresses. Everyone would benefit: the girls because they would be trained, and the employers because the trainee servants need not be paid.
Another way to increase the supply of servants, described by Isabel Marris in Mistresses and maids (1904), was to train middle-class women as 'lady servants':
There are a number of training-homes for lady servants now established, and excellent work they do. There is one at Malvem, one at Cheltenham, one at Gloucester, and others elsewhere.
The one at Cheltenham is called a 'Guild of Dames of the Household', and its object is not only to provide training and situations for ladies, but also to band together those who are employed in domestic service. Rooms and training are provided free, and only a small sum charged for board.
According to Isabel Marris, the 'lady servant' phenomenon was mainly the result of necessity, but was also a means for ladies to set an example, proving that domestic service could be an honourable occupation. There are arguments against ladies going into domestic service, she agreed; firstly their lack of physical strength:
Muscularly they and their parents before them were differently developed from the girl who ordinarily takes up domestic service . . .
and secondly the lack of mental stimulus in housework routines:
There is a danger that the inevitable absorption in (household chores) and the small amount of leisure for recreation and intellectual refreshment, should prove lowering in its influence.
It is easy to see why the idea of 'Dames of the household' floundered: quite apart from the social considerations for employers who did not know how to speak to them or whether to expect them to eat in the kitchen or the dining room, Marris argued that ladies would need to be paid more than ordinary maids. They would need to buy 'finer underclothing and different footgear', would need to save more for their retirement in order to enjoy a higher standard of living in old age, and would need more for attending concerts and so forth. In other words, a woman could not hope to keep up her status as a lady on the earnings of the average maid.
A few authors considering the problems of how to keep a servant once she had been found, turned their attention to ways of improving the relationship between mistress and maid. At home, by a mistress and mother (1877) began optimistically:
We will primarily start with this as a dictum, that the common bond of womanhood is a stronger tie between mistress and maid, than any difference of station can nullify or destroy.
The author went on to advocate kindness but firmness when dealing with servants. Her view that 'good domestic service is the best safeguard that the young females among our poor can have', saving them from 'degradation and sin', was echoed in a loftier way by the Countess of Aberdeen in Mistress and maidservants (1884), which bore the subtitle 'Suggestions towards the increased pleasure and permanence of their domestic relations', putting the problem in a nutshell. The book contained the texts of her speeches on two consecutive days when prizes were awarded to 'associates of the Haddo House Young Women's Improvement Association' which aimed to 'raise the whole moral tone of young women in service' through the efforts of a group of mistresses to educate them. Improved and educated young women would make better servants, and the bonds of gratitude formed after receiving their prizes in the grounds of Bruckley Castle, or in the corridor of the castle on the second day when it rained, would make them less likely to change their jobs.
The 'servant problem' inevitably appeared in general books on domestic economy, as in those specifically about servants. Mrs. Wigley, in Our home work() advised mistresses to remember to give their maids some leisure time. When the maids were at leisure, the mistress was encouraged to 'pop in upon them now and then' to see what they were doing and offer advice, perhaps on their sewing:
And this perhaps leads to other disclosures where your advice is most beneficial to them, and timidly and shyly at first, but afterwards openly and gratefully, they will appeal to you and be guided by you. And best of all, they will get to feel at one with you . . . and by degrees you will be able to make them dislike vulgarity or display or paltriness as much as you do yourself.
This model of the relationship between mistress and maid, in which the mistress appears as a benevolent, almost maternal figure, with a role as teacher and civiliser, softened the boundaries of class only to the extent that the division between adult and child replaced them. The gulf between employers and servants was as wide as ever, but by the late nineteenth century the middle classes had to resign themselves to the fact that the only servants they could afford were likely to be young and untrained, not the skilled, experienced and loyal servants so many writers pined for nostalgically. Writing on servants' rooms in From kitchen to garret (1888), Jane Panton explicitly compared the mistress to the mother of adolescent children, and advised her to use the 'silk chain' rather than the 'arbitrary command'. Times were indeed changing, although servants were still 'a little hopeless', in her words, about so many things. Still, she exhorted mistresses to let each servant have a separate bed, if possible, but not 'a really pretty room':
No sooner is the room put nice than something happens to destroy its beauty; and I really believe servants only feel happy if their rooms are allowed in some measure to resemble the homes of their youth, and to be merely places where they lie down to sleep as heavily as they can.
Some servants were indeed little more than children, but there were also some who saw themselves simply as workers who lacked organisation and industrial power, and who were treated very unfavourably by the law. The author of a book on 'the servants' question', How to improve the conditions of domestic service (1894), stated the case forcefully:
The domestic servants in Great Britain number over two million, and they are a class which are greatly neglected, and treated very unjustly, because they have no protection whatever.
The year of this publication coincided with the peak of a campaign conducted by the London and Provincial Domestic Servants' Union, inaugurated in 1890.30 The Union held a large public meeting in January I 894 and besides campaigning against servants' legal disabilities (as a class, servants were debarred from voting until 1918, although as most servants were women they would anyway have been unable to vote), tried to set up a registry office and a home for elderly and unemployed servants. The hostility of employers to the idea of unionised servants was a formidable obstacle, and the Union's campaigns failed.
Servants' views were rarely published, especially earlier in the century, and books by servants about their conditions of work deserve mention. Servants defended (1847), an anonymous work, was almost certainly written as a response to the satire on servants by the Mayhew brothers, The greatest plague of life, which appeared in the same year. The Mayhews' satire, with its Cruikshank engravings, owes much to Jonathan Swift's Directions to servants (1745),31 and portrays the typical servant as slovenly, lazy, mendacious, dirty, incompetent, prone to drunkenness, and generally dishonest. The author of Servants defended pointed out that masters and mistresses had plenty of faults of their own and often treated their servants unjustly and harshly, that domestic service was a trade requiring a certain level of knowledge and skill, and that despite the contempt and abuse servants had to endure as a class, they were generally to be found respectable and hardworking.
One of the serious problems facing domestic servants was accommodation, if they were between situations or were dismissed. The servant G. Oram, author of Masters and servants (1858), proposed a 'servants' provident hotel' as one solution. He explained that he wanted to see servants 'become more provident than they now are, and try to make provision for themselves in time of need, instead of trusting to what too often proves a broken reed leaning of friends in times of adversity'. He asked for replies from servants and employers but nothing apparently ever came of his scheme.
In the longer term, there was never any solution to the 'servant problem' which still exists in different forms. A changing class structure, more opportunities for women in the labour market, and homes which with the aid of electricity and other technological advances were less difficult to run, all contributed to altering the nature of the problem and ensuring that it touched the lives of fewer people. The first world war only temporarily dented the middle-class assumption that servants were an immutable fact of life, since the actual numbers of servants increased between the wars.32 The second world war brought a more decisive change, and as the service industries grew the direct employment of servants became too expensive and problematic for the majority of middle-class households, but while it has certainly become less visible it has never actually disappeared. In America, domestic manuals for Hispanic servants have now replaced the versions of last century. Michael Young in The rise of the meritocracy33 predicted that domestic service would return (although in my view it never went away entirely) by the end of the twentieth century, and if he is right the servants' manual is also due to experience its own revival.
Domestic Medicine and Childcare
Most babies were born at home, and most cases of illness or injury were nursed at home, until relatively recently. Nursing was consequently another domestic chore expected of women at some time or other, as Florence Nightingale expressed it in Notes on nursing ():
Every woman, or at least almost every woman, in England has, at one time or another of her life, charge of the personal health of somebody, whether child or invalid, – in other words, every woman is a nurse . . .
Before the nineteenth century the care and cure of sick people was so entirely taken for granted as an automatic part of household work that sections on home medicine were most commonly to be found in cookery books, and well into the century receipt books and cookery books continued to include recipes and formulae for medicines to be made at home.
With the spread of literacy and the wider availability of print, domestic medicine became a subject for an enormous quantity of books and magazines, aided by well-founded fears of disease, a high infant mortality rate, and a growing body of documented medical lore, all set against the expense of consulting a doctor and the dangers of hospitals, which often killed as many patients as they cured. The first notable author of a lay medical text was William Buchan,34 whose Domestic medicine was first published in 1769, went into sixteen further editions in the eighteenth century, and was still popular and successful in the early nineteenth century. Other authors were bound to follow his lead, and books on domestic medicine became standard inclusions in the lists of the major publishers.
The commonest formats used were those of the encyclopaedia or compendium, although there were also medical receipt books, and a number of books for the promotion of the miraculous cures invented by their authors. As I have excluded specialist books which were not for the use of households, mothers or 'heads of families', the books listed are only a proportion of the medical literature which may have been used in the home. Many authors addressed their books to the lay user and to the medical profession equally, and it is impossible to make an absolute division between lay and professional texts. I have excluded those books which concentrated on particular diseases, and also others which referred only to specific theories of treatment. Homeopathy was in fashion for a period of the nineteenth century, and other forms of therapy such as hydropathy had their own spells of popularity.35 General books on domestic medicine often referred to these therapies or devoted chapters to them, but I have not included books expounding the theories of any one particular treatment. The field of popular medicine as a whole is much too large to be covered here.
The development of domestic medicine in publishing paralleled that of domestic economy, not unexpectedly. In 1824, The family oracle of health by A.F. Crell, was published, the title echoing William Kitchiner's well known cookery book, The cook's oracle (1817). The following year Alexander Burnett's The medical adviser appeared, reprinting material from the periodical 'the medical adviser, and guide to health and long life'. Burnett's book was designed for entertainment as well as for consultation, with descriptions of medical curiosities and items of unusual information. It compares with the popular miscellanies which mingled recipes and domestic advice with sensational facts. Thomas Graham's Modern domestic medicine (1827), was a more sober although still a popular work. Its full title illustrates the scope of the lay medical text, as well as the diversity of its intended audience:
Modern domestic medicine; or, a popular treatise, illustrating the character, symptoms, causes, distinction, and correct treatment, of all diseases incident to the human frame; embracing all the modern improvements in medicine, with the opinions of the most distinguished physicians. To which is added, a domestic materia medica; a description of the virtues, and correct manner of using the different mineral waters of Europe, and the cold, warm, and vapour baths; a copious collection of approved prescriptions adapted to domestic use; ample rules of diet, and a table of the doses of medicines. The whole intended as a medical guide for the use of clergymen, heads of families, and invalids.
Graham's book went into more than thirteen editions, the last published in 1882. As the contents of medical texts went out of date only slowly, if at all, many of them were reprinted in subsequent editions, sometimes for decades. Thomas Andrews' A cyclopaedia of domestic medicine and surgery was first published in 1842, and was reprinted three times by 1847. Houlston and Wrights' The family doctor first appeared in 1858 and was published by them in another edition two years later, and by two different publishers in 1864 and 1889, who were both possibly pirating the book. Spencer Thomson's A dictionary of domestic medicine (1852) reached its thirty-ninth edition in 1911, and many other titles were success stories for their publishers on a lesser scale. Amongst members of the medical profession, the mass sale of such books met with a certain amount of disapproval. The comments of one anonymous physician, the author of A handbook of domestic medicine (1855), followed an almost ritual form for pacifying these critics, and many other books included a similar form of words in their prefaces:
Some of the Faculty disapprove of works of this kind, but it is apprehended without sufficient reason. Persons who have the means will always have recourse to medical men of ability, and they will do so with greater confidence and readiness when they believe that medicine is a rational science, than when they take it to be a matter of mere conjecture and empiricism.
Most authors also took the precaution of warning readers that in serious cases they should, of course, call in a doctor if at all possible. Before long no apologies were deemed necessary, for both the medical profession and the household medical reference book were unassailably established. John Gardner wrote in his preface to Household medicine (1878) that 'a book on domestic medicine is generally considered to be indispensable in every household'. It had taken roughly a hundred years.
From the 1880s onwards the domestic medicine book itself expanded, with major publishing houses such as Cassell's bringing out works in several volumes, complete with illustrations and plates. Cassell's The family physician () had a separate section entitled 'The ladies' physician', and was published in a subscription edition in four volumes, a handsome counterpart to their Household guide. In 1908 they published a five volume edition of Cassell's people's physician, with coloured and black and white plates and figures in the text. In the early twentieth century the fascination of some medical texts must have lain to a great extent in the illustrations, especially those with moving parts. Virtue's household physician (), by Herbert Buffum, was illustrated with 'manikins', coloured plates mounted in layers which could be moved or lifted to show the organs and workings of the body. Virtue's household physician maintained its popularity and was reprinted for the next half century.
If every household needed a medical reference book, not everyone wanted a book so comprehensive that it was bulky, expensive and probably difficult to read. Some authors emphasised the simplicity of their writing, aiming at a particular and less affluent section of the market. The author of The family doctor () advertised his work thus:
We write for the million, and we desire to make our manual a household book in the cottage of the labourer, the home of the artizan, as well as in the residence of the middle-class tradesman . . .
A later edition of the book (probably 1870) added a routine criticism of rival productions:
There is at present no lack of works professing to have the same object in view; but they are mostly large and costly, and do not come within the means of the many, to whom such information is useful; and generally speaking, they are too professional and technical to be of much service to the large class for whom this work is specially intended. Our aim is utility . . . therefore we write simply, and explain as we go, troubling our readers as little as may be with hard scientific names . . .
George Black's The family health book (1892) also claimed to describe 'in plain, simple and intelligible terms, suited to the comprehension of non-scientific readers, all that it is necessary to know . . . with full instructions with reference to sanitation, health, diet, exercise, clothing, work and longevity'. The style of Black's book, arranged alphabetically, can be gauged to an extent from a sample of successive entries, headed: passions and emotions; passions, the lesser; pastry; patella; patterns of wall papers; pauper dietaries; peach. As a reference book it is reminiscent of Willich's Domestic encyclopaedia (1802).
Cheapest and simplest of all, with good reason, were the quack books which pretended to be books on domestic medicine for general reference, but were in fact nothing other than extended advertisements for dubious remedies. The poor man's doctor (1849) by W. Rose, advocated the use of 'Rose's strengthening pills' which the author claimed could cure anything from toothache to typhus. Fennings' everybody's doctor (, by Alfred Fennings, promoted the author's 'cooling powders', 'hooping cough powders' and 'lung healers'. Fennings also offered postal consultations: for a shilling or thirteen postage stamps and an account of their symptoms, readers would receive a diagnosis and a cure by return of post. The author of The book about the baby (), Edward Elliott, recommended his own preparations as the best cure for various infantile disorders, and styled himself 'Ph.C.' to impress readers with his learning, although no such qualification existed. Patent medicines had an enormous sale, as F.B. Smith comments in The people's health 1830-1910:36
Over 17 million patent medicine duty stamps were sold in the United Kingdom in 1880. In 1887 the people spent over £1 ½ million on such products. By 1912, three years after the publication of H.G. Wells' Tono-Bungay, the people bought over 31 million units of the cheapest patent medicines with 1 ½ d. stamps.
Patent medicines did an untold amount of harm to patients, especially babies and young children, although some were harmless as well as useless. Alfred Fennings' 'cooling powders' were among the quack remedies described in Secret remedies: what they cost and what they contain, based on analyses made for the British Medical Assocation and published by them in 1909.37 The powders were found to consist of seventy per cent potassium chlorate and thirty per cent powdered liquorice. They were sold in boxes at 2s 9d, although the estimated cost of the ingredients was one sixth of a penny. A circular enclosed with the box described the powders as 'the best medicine for infants', recommending their use for thrush, measles, whooping cough, or fevers of any kind.
It seems plausible that these dangerous little books were more popular and influential in poor households than any of the more orthodox, weighty and expensive publications, but as they tended to be published by the authors and manufacturers themselves and not by established publishing companies, they are less likely to have been preserved in libraries. In their time, it is quite possible that they formed a larger proportion of domestic medical literature than is evident now: their cheapness and flimsiness, not to mention their uselessness, suggest that other quack doctors may well have published similar books, although surviving copies are hard to trace and may no longer exist at all.
By the late nineteenth century the medical profession, and the public at large, had begun to understand more about the relation between the spread of disease on the one hand and bad diet and insanitary conditions on the other. The domestic economy syllabus taught in schools reflected this acceptance of the importance of hygiene, and the books which aimed at giving comprehensive advice on domestic medicine mirrored the preoccupation of the time in a markedly similar way. MacGregor-Robertson's The household physician () gave space to a section which was effectively on preventive medicine, as the author pointed out in the preface:
The second division of the book is devoted to Hygiene, or the conditions of health as regards food, drink, clothing, exercise, &c., and the rules to be observed for the promotion of health, both of individuals and communities. Details are given of the requirements of a healthy house, in its construction, ventilation, water-supply, drainage &c. In each case the means of discovering anything detrimental to health is explained, and the nature of the remedy pointed out.
The authors of general books on domestic medicine were, without exception, male, and were usually doctors. Women were debarred from entering the medical profession until the late 1870s. The audience referred to by the authors of general works was a mixed one, and at the beginning of the century was not only of mixed sex but included professional as well as lay readers. Richard Reece's The medical guide (1817) is one example of a book published 'for the use of the clergy, heads of families, and practitioners in medicine and surgery'. Reece's formula was a fairly common one. Clergymen, especially in rural areas, were expected to have a little medical knowledge for the benefit of those poor parishioners who might have no other access to professional advice. 'Heads of families' usually meant male heads of households, addressed on the basis that they might want to study medical science, possibly even practise some home surgery, or dispense from their own medicine chests. Anyone with the means could buy a medicine chest, also known as a 'portable dispensatory', already equipped, and there were manuals which explained their use, such as the Index to the portable dispensatory (1801), and Butler's medicine-chest directory (1832), by Charles Butler.
As the medical profession continued its struggle for status and recognition, and claimed for itself more exclusive rights and skills, the distinction between lay and professional texts became clearer and Reece's words became impossibly democratic for the later generations of authors. Books on domestic medicine by the late nineteenth century were being published for consumers as distinct from practitioners, although they still assumed a mixed-sex audience, and assumed that nursing was women's work. Nursing manuals were always unequivocally aimed at women, and throughout the period were written by both men and women. In the early part of the century nurses were classed as servants, and very few books were written for them, as Alice Thompson notes in the introduction to A bibliography of nursing literature 1859-1960:38
There is little evidence that doctors, even as recently as the nineteenth century were concerned about the system of nursing or made any attempt to improve the preparation of nurses. Manuals on the home care of the sick and the nursing of children were written by doctors, but these were intended for domestic use, and would have been useless to the servant class of nurse since few, if any, could read or write.
The nurses most commonly employed in private homes in the nineteenth century were the so-called 'monthly nurses', who attended women for the first four weeks after childbirth. A month was considered to be the proper 'lying-in' period, when both mother and infant were in delicate health and mothers were sometimes even forbidden to rise from their beds at all. Mrs Baker, the author of The companion to the lying-in room () described herself as a 'monthly nurse' although her experience might have qualified her to call herself a midwife, if the climate of medical opinion had not been so hostile to the idea of midwifery as a profession for women.39 Her book advised nurses on the management of childbirth and the care of mother and infant, in a simply written first-person narrative, printed in an unusually large typeface. She clearly expected her readers to be women of the servant class, who were unused to reading.
Mrs Baker's book was something of a rarity, for most nursing manuals were either intended for the non-professional 'family nurse' and for nurses equally, or were simply for the use of women in general. Lydia Child's The family nurse (1837) was of the latter kind, and had more in common with receipt books and books on domestic economy, such as her own cookery book The frugal housewife40, than it had with later nursing manuals. J. S. Forsyth's The mother's medical pocket book (1824), offered advice 'physical and medical, to mothers and nurses'. The most important book on nursing in the nineteenth century was of course Florence Nightingale's Notes on nursing: what it is, and what it is not (1859), which was immensely popular and influential. She wrote for 'every woman', yet there was nothing amateurish about her advice or her style of giving it. Notes on nursing was heavily plagiarised by later authors, most notably (and without acknowledgement) by her contemporary Isabella Beeton in Household management41, which appeared just after the publication of Notes on nursing.
After Florence Nightingale had given the lead, most other writers followed her in classing all women as potential, or actual, amateur nurses, relying less on leeches and herbs and more on careful observation and on not annoying the patient by gossiping, whispering or rustling clothes. Notes on nursing stressed fresh air, cleanliness and attention to detail. It presented nursing as actual work which could be carried out intelligently and systematically, not as a mere extension of womanhood. The brusqueness of Notes on nursing, its impatience with folly and sharp words for slapdash workers, offer a good antidote to the sentimental myths which have been woven around its author.
Girls in elementary schools were expected to learn about sick nursing as part of the domestic economy syllabus, and although it was more often accorded a section in general domestic economy textbooks, some specialised nursing manuals aimed at schoolgirls were published after 1870. Hints on nursing the sick (), by S.E. Pease, was a catechism for girls' schools with questions on nursing and on general domestic topics. Louisa Dobrée's A manual of home nursing (1889) was written for both schoolgirls and women at home. A book for younger children, Simple lessons in nursing, was published by Blackie & Son in 1909. As women began to qualify as doctors and as professional nurses, a growing number of books on nursing, home medicine, motherhood and childcare were written for ordinary women by the first generation of women with recognised medical qualifications, among them Florence Stacpoole, Evelyn Bunting, Lydia Leney, Mary Scharlieb, Sophia Jex-Blake, Lilian Austin Robinson.42 There were still no systematic standards of education for entry to the nursing profession, for doctors were opposed to the statutory recognition of nurses, and their state registration was delayed until 1919. From then onwards textbooks on nursing for nurses began to appear,43 and the nurse was no longer any and every woman but a worker who had been trained to be skilled in her profession.
An even greater volume of medical literature aimed at women concentrated on their role as wives and mothers. The impetus behind many of these books was concern over the infant mortality rate, and one of the earliest influential writers was again William Buchan. His Advice to mothers (1803) contained a chapter with the title 'Sketch of a plan for the preservation and improvement of the human species'. A number of doctors had begun to investigate and discuss the cause of infant deaths, as medical specialisation advanced and childbirth became less of a private domestic occasion. John Davis and Charles West44 pioneered enquiries and published advice for mothers, who were often seen as the root of the problem. Hints to mothers (1837) and The maternal management of children (1840), both by Thomas Bull, were frequently reprinted books which superseded Buchan and appeared in new editions up until 1877. There were many similar publications, easily the most popular among them Pye Henry Chavasse's Advice to mothers (1849) and Advice to wives (1843) which regularly appeared in new editions for almost a century.
The scope of these advice books made them more than medical reference books, for their subjects were no less than how to be a good wife and mother, raising healthy children. Bull's The maternal management of children began with the words:
Introductory remarks on the great majority of children, and the consequent duty of mothers. One Child in five dies within a year after birth, and one in three before the completion of the fifth year.
He noted that the proportion in London and some other cities was even worse. Bull argued that mothers, and prospective mothers, had a duty to inform themselves about the means of ensuring their children's health, since the mother's conduct was a major factor. Chavasse took the same view, remarking that 'A wife may be likened to a fruit-tree, a child to its fruit'. Only a fine tree could bear fine fruit. Thomas Bull, in common with other authors, exhorted mothers to breastfeed, inveighing against those who would not do so and broke the 'fixed law of Nature', which they could not expect to break with impunity. Until the late nineteenth century wet-nursing was commonly resorted to rather than artificial feeding, which was more likely to kill the child. Bull gave advice on both, discussing the choice, diet and treatment of a nurse 'who must not be looked on merely as a living dairy'. He warned against the use of opiates, quoting the evidence of a Manchester druggist who supplied seven hundred families weekly with an ounce of laudanum each, to show how widespread the practice of dosing infants with opiates was amongst those to whom mothers might entrust their children. He also described a series of case histories, demonstrating the fatal consequences of giving laudanum to babies. Other chapters in Bull's book covered the diet of childhood, the general management of children, including their apartments and servants, sleep, bathing and cleanliness, clothing, air and exercise the use and abuse of medicines, vaccination, management of teething, and the management of children in disease.
The position of the wet-nurse in the household was something of a problem for the 'respectable' household, for she was almost certainly an unmarried mother and hence not respectable. There was therefore always a danger of moral contamination. Charles Haden, in Practical observations on the management and diseases of children (1827), proposed that the chosen wet-nurse should be a pitiable creature to provide an object lesson for other servants. On the other hand she was required to be in good health for the child's sake, so a nurse should be found who was healthy yet pitiable, in good spirits yet contrite. While most advice books for mothers were written by male doctors especially in the nineteenth century, a few other books appeared which made a virtue of their difference. Margaret Jane Moore, later the Countess Dowager Mountcashell, published Advice to young mothers in 1823, followed by a revised edition with the new title A grandmother's advice to young mothers in 1835. She pointed out that, unlike the medical men who wrote similar books, she was able to write from experience. E.W. Bowdich made the same point considerably later in Confidential chats with mothers (1890):
There are already many highly useful and well-known works treating of maternity and its responsibilities; but they are mostly written by medical men, who, although giving most excellent advice, are obliged in a great measure to speak theoretically. I am therefore emboldened to offer some useful hints from my own experience . . .
Books for mothers did not always begin with the care of an existing infant, or even with childbirth. Chavasse's Advice to wives (1843) – later published as Advice to a wife – began even earlier with chapters on menstruation, pregnancy, labour and suckling. It is impossible to say how many young women were married in complete ignorance of sexual matters, but occasionally authors mentioned the naivety of the new bride as their motive for writing. Even so, the coyness of many authors, or else their understandable caution considering the fate of Henry Allbutt, prevented them from fully enlightening their readers. The author of Advice to a young married women () simply noted that within a month to six weeks after her marriage a young wife would usually discover that she was expecting a child. How this was so remained a mystery. Allbutt, on the other hand, in The wife's handbook (1886), imprudently let his readers know that conception could be prevented. For this he was struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council and forbidden to practise as a doctor. Allbutt fought his case, arguing that his real crime in the eyes of the Council had been selling the handbook too cheaply. As he put it in the 'Appeal' inserted in the eighth edition of the book, in 1888:
The truth is this - the heads of the medical profession in England are opposed to cheap medical knowledge for the people. They like to keep the poor hard-working men and women in ignorance of certain important facts. They do not like a poor married women to know the means by which she can keep from the workhouse by having only as many children as she can bring up in comfort. Knowledge may be all right for the rich lady who can afford to buy a guinea medical book and pay a big fee to a doctor, but it is an offence of an infamous character for a physician to write and sell a book at sixpence showing the poor how to better their hard lot.
Allbutt was the first English doctor to publish information on birth control. He was indeed condemned for having published his book 'at so low a price as to bring the work within the reach of the youth of both sexes, to the detriment of public morals' and while protecting youth may have been one of the GMC's motives, they undoubtedly took the prejudiced view of working-class women which Allbutt so bitterly criticised. The GMC could not prevent the flow of such publications in the long run, although as Angus McLaren notes in Birth control in nineteenth century England45, the Council's actions 'dissuaded other physicians from publicly defending contraception'. In other advice books for wives, coyness rather than frankness remained the rule. Arther Beale, for example, in Feeding and management in infancy (1894) warned that women should not have more children than they could support, but gave no information on how this goal could be achieved.
The output of books on childcare continued to expand in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as the infant mortality rate actually increased46 and the maternity and child welfare movement organised to prevent infant death and maternal ill health. Artificial feeding was gaining in popularity although it was often still unsafe,47 and some authors, Arthur Beale among them, began to recommend schedule rather than demand feeding for infants and to provide elaborate tables of formulae for artificial milks. Books written by women for mothers were often less sternly professional in their approach. Florence Stacpoole had advice for pregnant cyclists in Advice to women (1901):
Bicycling has now become so general that the question of its continuance during pregnancy requires consideration. I have known several women who rode with perfect safety during the first five or six months . . . as to ordinary quiet riding causing a miscarriage, I am convinced that no rule that it will certainly do so can be laid down. I know of one case where a lady rode forty miles with the direct intention of bringing on a miscarriage, but the ride had not the desired effect, and she continued in perfect health and had a good confinement.
Florence Stacpoole's matter-of-fact, uncensorious prose is far removed from the strident criticisms of mothers voiced by those members of the medical profession, such as Robert Bell, author of Our children (1887), and Gordon Stables, author of The wife's guide () and The mother's book of health (), who saw mothers as irresponsible beings needing to be reminded of their duties. Stables quoted Ruskin, and advised that it was a sin for women with irregular periods of menstruation to marry at all. Bell told mothers to ensure that their daughters' brains were not overtaxed by study when they reached puberty, echoing the fairly prevalent opposition to education for women on supposed medical grounds. Lydia Leney's advice in The mothers guide (1903) was strikingly at odds with the established view of education as somehow opposed to maternity:
During the time a women is pregnant she has generally more time for mental culture, since very often she is unable to do active work. What an opportunity there is here of reading good, wholesome literature, or possibly acquiring a language . . .
Clinics where working-class women could bring their babies to be weighed and receive advice on childcare began to open early in the twentieth century. Evelyn Bunting, in A school for mothers (), described a 'school' where women were provided with dinners during pregnancy and after the birth of their babies, on condition that they promised to breastfeed their infants. A few books aimed at girls at school appeared, and some domestic economy writers gave advice on 'minding the baby' to girls, not as future mothers, but as children already actively involved in caring for younger brothers and sisters. Mrs Watson's Lessons on the care of infants () was published specifically for use in schools, but many other cheap publications could have been used equally by new young mothers and schoolchildren.
Apart from advice books, mothers could turn to domestic economy books of various kinds for information on childcare, and to magazines. Ada Ballin, author of a number of advice books for mothers, also founded and edited Baby: the mothers' magazine, where the material in E.W. Bowdich's Confidential chats with mothers was originally published. Although fashions in childcare changed, and the advice given by one generation of professionals sometimes flatly contradicted the views of another, the market for advice books on childcare grew substantially throughout the period covered here, and has not stopped growing since.
The literature of etiquette is full of paradoxes. On the surface it is the written code for a fixed, formal and recognised system of behaviour, yet the volume of books and articles on etiquette produced between 1800 and 1914 speaks more urgently of uncertainty and change. Common themes were the decay of modern manners and the instability of society, and writers often described their books as necessary correctives for wider social problems. In Hints on etiquette (1839), originally written by Charles Day and revised by 'a lady of rank', one particular section of the population seen as at fault and in need of advice were the upwardly mobile:
in a mercantile country like England, people are continually rising in the world. Shopkeepers become merchants, and mechanics manufacturers; with the possession of wealth they acquire a taste for the luxuries of life . . . with the use of which they are only imperfectly acquainted. But . . . it rarely happens that the polish of their manners keeps pace with the rapidity of their advancement . . .
Lady Violet Greville, author of The gentlewoman in society (1892), blamed the behaviour of modern women for their own loss of status and for allowing 'careless indifference' to replace a strict adherence to the rules:
The present is essentially a period of change; the stability of old institutions is threatened; the reason of old associations disputed; Society itself is disintegrated, its particles are inchoate and shifting . . . Woman has always reigned as queen of Society, and if the modern lady sees her empire slipping from her - the chivalrous worship hitherto loyally rendered giving place to a kind of democratic equality and careless indifference – it behooves her to look well and see whether she has not in some measure fallen short of her ideal . . .
Modern young women had their counterparts in loutish young men, satirised by 'Paidagogos' in More hints in etiquettee (1838), and by Nathan Urner under the guise of 'Mentor' in Never (). These three groups – ill-mannered youth, women who climbed off their pedestals, and the upwardly mobile – were consistently represented as at best threatening the smooth workings of society, at worst undermining its manners and morals.
One of the first nineteenth-century guides to etiquette inevitably looked back to the eighteenth century. Dr. John Trusler's A system of etiquette (1804) was addressed primarily to young men and held echoes of Chesterfield48 with its 'Maxims of prudence'. The third edition, published in 1828, included some observations on duelling, hardly a topic of concern to later writers. Trusler's warnings that duelling was a criminal practice, to be avoided, were probably already redundant at the time. Trusler wrote as a clergyman, and also as a social observer. His first guide to etiquette was The honours of the table (1788)49, a book concerned mainly with 'rules for behaviour during meals' and with carving, long considered part of the education of the well-bred youth of both sexes. Men were usually expected to know how to carve, although according to an anonymous lady in 1839, the author of Seven hundred domestic hints,50 carving had once been an entirely female accomplishment:
The greater the lady, the more indispensable the duty - each joint was carried up to be operated on by her, and by her alone . . . There were then professed carving-masters who taught young ladies the art scientifically; from one of whom Lady Mary Wortly Montagu said she took lessons three times a week, that she might be perfect on her father's public days; when in order to perform her functions without interruptions, she was forced to eat her own dinner alone an hour or two before hand . . .
Sections on carving complete with little diagrams appeared frequently in cookery books and books on household management - as a mealtime ritual, it was not usually entrusted to servants until methods of service changed around the mid- century when meats were sometimes carved away from the table.51 A small number of carving handbooks were published, including The handbook of carving(1844), and Carving made easy (1857), while Ward, Lock and Tyler's How to dine was mostly about how to carve. The market for books on etiquette, for both men and women, began to develop in the 1830's. Charles Day's Hints on etiquette appeared first in 1834 under the pseduonym 'Agogos', and reached its twenty-seventh edition in 1852. Meanwhile the publisher Charles Tilt launched Etiquette for the ladies (1852) and Etiquette for gentlemen (1837), which were both rapidly reprinted in numerous editions. Another title published under Tilt's imprint, More hints on etiquette (1838), included some engravings by George Cruikshank and was by the self-styled 'Paidagogos', who may also have been Charles Day, but may alternatively have been astutely named to capitalise on the success of a rival publication.
In the middle decades of the nineteenth century guides to etiquette were still concerned primarily with the lives of the aristocracy and the most public spectacles, for instance balls and royal drawing rooms, whether or not the information they provided was relevant to their readers. Court etiquette (1849) was billed as:
a guide to intercourse with royal or titled persons, to drawing rooms, levees, courts, and audiences, the usages of social life, the formal modes of addressing letters, memorials and petitions, the rules of procedures, the composition of dedications, the conduct of public meetings, and every other formality of business or pleasure.
It is impossible to imagine a readership which needed to be told both how to conduct its everyday business affairs and how to mingle at court. Court etiquette was essentially a list of the ordinary rules about visiting, table manners and polite conversation wrapped up in several layers of sheer social snobbery. Some similar titles were quite literally packaged for effect: The book of fashionable life () by a 'member of the royal household' had gilt-edged leaves while Etiquette for ladies () had pink card covers printed in gilt. Etiquette for ladies, not the same work as Charles Tilt's publication of the same title, had a section on dances describing the various steps and figures of the dances in current fashion. The 1866 edition of Hints on etiquette also explained some dance steps, the new waltzes in particular. These books seem especially to deserve Leonore Davidoff's comments:52
Caution must be exercised in using sources such as housekeeping books, manuals of etiquette and the advice columns in magazines as evidence of existing attitudes and behaviour. These publications often seem to be sheer fantasy-peddling for profit, and yet the number turned out from the 1830's onwards indicates that they were fulfilling a need for social guidance.
From the mid-nineteenth century guides to etiquette became something of a middle-class phenomenon, and whilst never losing their aristocratic associations some dropped their pretensions and concentrated on offering more mundane advice. In many general books on household management etiquette appeared simply as a branch of domestic economy. J.H. Walsh's A manual of domestic economy, first published in 1857, did not use the term 'etiquette' but instead provided a section on the 'social duties of heads of families', which nevertheless dealt with the topics most commonly found in etiquette books: the principles of carving, rules for exchanging cards and visits, fashions in table decoration and menus for entertaining. The most popular etiquette guide published in the latter part of the century was unequivocally for a middle-class readership. Manners and tone of good society was first published in 1879. The title was changed in 1891 to Manners and rules of good society, and under that title the book reached its thirty- first edition in 1910. In the introductory remarks, the author acknowledged that the book was intended for new recruits to the middle classes, those who have 'hitherto moved in other spheres than those wherein well-bred people move', also commending the book to 'those individuals who have led secluded or isolated lives', and to mothers, chaperones and governesses.
In common with many other etiquette manuals, Manners and rules was published anonymously, with the author described as 'a member of the aristocracy'. Guides to etiquette presented themselves as authorities on correct behaviour amongst the middle and upper classes, so it was obviously important that their authors appeared to be people in the know, who moved in the right circles themselves. A few titled ladies published etiquette books under their own names: Lady Campbell, Lady Greville, Lady Howard and Lady Grove. Other books proclaimed the social standing of their authors, even when they remained anonymous - ' a member of the aristocracy', 'a member of the royal household', 'a lady in society' or 'a lady of rank'. Some pseudonyms portrayed the author as simply a wordly-wise, experienced observer - ' a citizen of the world', 'Au fait', 'an observer of men and things'. The habits of good society () included two prefaces, one addressed to men written by 'the man in the club window' who knew about modern manners from watching the world go by, while the 'lady's preface' was contributed by a 'a matron'. 'Mentor' and 'Paidagogos', who directed their strictures and advice at young men, straightforwardly assigned themselves names in keeping with their roles as the tutors of youth. Lacking a seemingly aristocratic or well-known name on the title-page, the best course for a publisher was often to do without any authors' name, thus enhancing the book's presentation as an impersonal collection of established and absolute rules. It is no accident that so many etiquette books were published anonymously, even allowing for the fact that some were plagiarised versions of earlier books and had no single author. If the name on the title-page added nothing to the prestige of an etiquette manual, there was a risk that it might actually do it some damage.
Some aspects of etiquette, such as the rules of precedence, were not subject to change, but in other respects authors had to keep up with new fashions, particularly in styles of entertaining. As the old-fashioned custom of placing many different dishes on the table at once, in two large courses, gave way to service 'a la Russe' which left room on the table for ornamentation, hostesses found they had new accomplishments to learn. From the 1870s onwards several books purely on folding dinner napkins were published: one, Serviettes, Dinner napkins, and how to fold them (), by Georgiana Clark, had more than a hundred illustrations. William Low's Table decoration (1887), which showed rigidly symmetrical arrangements of fruit and flowers, was a more unusual book although some writers on etiquette gave the question of choice of table arrangements much serious attention – in Manners for women (1897), Mrs Humphry devoted most of her chapter on 'Dinners and dinner parties' to elaborate descriptions of flowers and napery. A large number of books on etiquette published between 1870 and 1914 concentrated on entertaining and on how to behave when visiting others. If middle-class Victorian and Edwardian homes were designed virtually as stage sets, as Leonore Davidoff suggests in The best circles,53 then women with social aspirations needed to know how to perform as hostesses, from the large questions of who to invite, and how to make acquaintances in the first place, to the fine details of menu cards and when to withdraw from the table. Lucie Heaton Armstrong was one prolific author whose etiquette manuals concentrated on party giving and entertainments. Etiquette-up-to-date (1908) included her suggestions for ladies' luncheon parties, children's parties, supper parties, a valentine party, a cake-walk party, country garden parties, country parties, regatta and bridge parties, and more. Edith Waldemar Leverton's Little entertainments (1904) was in a similar vein, with ideas for party games and some sample menus. There were also of course, besides the etiquette manuals, a large number of cookery books published throughout the period which featured menus for entertaining, often illustrated with pictures of elaborate table settings.
The technicalities of etiquette – the correct size of visiting card, shades of mourning, the correct pronunciation of names, the proper use of cutlery, how long to stay when paying morning calls and so forth formed much of the substance of the etiquette manuals, yet the authors often added a rider to the effect that the spirit of etiquette actually lay somewhere else. The rules themselves were important as a test of 'good breeding', a euphemism for middle or upper class status, but could also be defended as just sensible behaviour, or courtesy. The author of Manners and rules of good society () argued:
The etiquette of card leaving and that of paying calls are indisputably necessary and only the very ignorant would attempt to gainsay their utility; without these aids to order and method all intercourse between friends and acquaintances would be uncertain and chaotic . . .
Any one point of etiquette if brought to the bar of common sense would be pronounced reasonable, proper and sensible; and there is strictly speaking no question of etiquette that cannot thus be judged and upon which a like verdict would not be given. There is no one rule of etiquette that can be described as absurd or ridiculous, arbitrary or tyrannical, and taken collectively the rules are but social obligations due from one person to another.
This supposed explanation of course concealed the fact that the 'social obligations due from one person to another' were not invariable but depended on the sex and social status of each individual. Women were far more constrained by the rules than men, since middle-class women had less access to any kind of social life outside their own homes, and their sexual respectability, as well as their social position, needed careful guarding. Particularly towards the end of the period, etiquette books were intended much more for women than for men, and the books for women contained more elaborate rules on the rituals of calling, ceremonial hospitality, and the correct demeanour of the well-bred.
Authors were occasionally honest about the fundamental paradox of their books: those who were already ladies or gentlemen did not need them, while those who were not could only hope to imitate the behaviour of their betters but could never be accepted as the genuine article. Overlooking its material basis, they claimed that true gentility was an indefinable essence, innate and almost mystical. As the author of Complete etiquette for ladies and gentlemen (1900) explained, or rather declined to explain:
There is a graceful way of holding the hat which every well-bred man understands, but which is incapable of explanation.
Similar comments appeared in other books, but authors tended not to make too great a point of the fact that although they were prepared to write guides to gentility, and their publishers were equally prepared to sell them, their readers' quests were ultimately bound to prove futile.
Books for children were less contradictory, for the young could be given straightforward lectures on their vulgarity and could still hope to alter their status. Early books showed strong resemblances to religious guides on behaviour. Mrs Marshall's The child's guide to good breeding (1839) was 'founded on Christian principles', and as well as giving general instructions told children how to behave in the nursery, when allowed into the drawing-room, and at table. There was also a chapter entitled 'Politeness to our inferiors'. A couple of other children's guides to etiquette were translated from French: A treatise on politeness (1812) and Mrs Sadlier's The rules of Christian politeness (1862). Advice on good manners appeared in some domestic economy textbooks, and a few etiquette books were intended for school pupils. >em>Polite manners (1861) was billed as for the use of 'schools, young men's societies, and private individuals', and was also consciously intended for the working class and lower middle class. Kathleen Ferguson's Hints on good manners . For the use of children (1901) was written for labourers' children, who were warned not to correct their elders' faults, because their parents had not had their own advantages in learning how to speak properly or acquiring good manners. Kathleen Ferguson also wrote textbooks on domestic economy, which were published in Athlone for the use of Irish schoolchildren.
The period chosen for this bibliography, 1800 to 1914, seems arbitrary in some respects when looking at household books as a whole. The first world war by no means marked the end of the servant era, and in this century, since 1914, cookery books and books on childcare have grown in importance for the publishing industry. Books on general household management have lost their importance but did not suddenly disappear after 1914, while school books have stayed in demand and many published after 1914 hardly differ from those listed here. The changes in society in Britain from 1914 onwards are most clearly reflected in books on etiquette, which declined most of all. They present some of the more difficult problems of interpretation, taking as their subjects both a fixed model of the social system and the means of gaining access to it or of crossing boundaries; they often appeared moral and censorious, at the same time advising anyone unscrupulous enough on the necessity of ditching their old friends to further their social aspirations; they affected to despise pretension and snobbery, without which there would be no market for the books. Above all their role was entirely to prescribe rules, supposedly not of their own making, but which reflected current practice in the social circles to which their readers aspired, or which they simply wanted to believe they knew about. Certainly middle-class women paid calls, left visiting cards, worried about precedence and what to feed their guests, and referred to books for advice on managing weddings, bereavements and all manner of difficult social occasions. The relationship of etiquette manuals to social life at the time was complex: they prescribed, idealised, fantasised, and in part they simply observed and recorded. For readers now the problem is determining how much is pure fossil and how much is fraud.
Notes and references
All books referred to are published in London, unless otherwise indicated.
- Katherine Bitting, Gastronomic bibliography (Ann Arbor, 1971; reprint of 1939); A.W. Oxford, English cookery books in 1850 (1977; reprint of 1913); Virginia MacLean, A short-title catalogue of household and cookery books published in the English tongue 1701-1800 (1981).
- Ann Oakley, Housewife (1976, reprint of 1974).
- Innumerable expressions of this view can be found; one of the most influential was John Ruskin's in Sesame and lilies (1865), and there are many popular references to the disorganised home as the cause which drives a man to his club or to the alehouse.
- When Elizabeth Simpson worked as a kitchen maid in Yorkshire in 1863 'it was a rule, strictly enforced, that she must never be seen by any of the family'. Frank Victor Dawes, Not in front of the servants (1973). By all accounts it was not an uncommon rule especially in large establishments.
- Two different works published in the eighteenth century were The whole duty of a woman: or a guide to the female sex (1701) and The whole duty of a woman : or, an infallible guide to the fair sex (1737), both cookery books which went into several editions.
- See Josephine Kamm, Hope deferred (1965).
- Richard Altick in The English common reader (1957) documents the spread of such publications during the period, following the repeal of the newspaper tax.
- Quoted from M. Seaborne and Sir G. Isharn, A victorian schoolmaster: J. J. Graves (1967), in Nancy Ball, Educating the people a documentary history of elementary schooling in England 1840-1870 (1983).
- Anne Digby and Peter Searby, Children, school and society in nineteenth-century England (1981).
- Clara Grant, a London elementary school teacher in the 1890s, suggested that children in rural schools were given an inordinate amount of needlework partly in order to make and mend for the local gentry (quoted in Carol Dyhouse, Girls growing up in late Victorian and Edwardian England (1981)). A correspondent who sent me her recollections of studying domestic economy in an elementary school in the early twentieth century described how the pupils' practical work consisted of an afternoon a week at the house where the teachers lodged, cleaning and doing laundry for them, in addition to a two-mile walk there and back.
- Maragret Weddell, Training in home management (1955).
- For a full account of the debate about the teaching of domestic subjects in girls' schools for middle-class pupils and in colleges and universities see Dyhouse op cit; Josephine Kamm, Hope deferred (1965), also has a certain amount of information and Frances Widdowson, Going up into the next class (Women and elementary teacher training, 1840-1914) (1980), is useful on the role played by the general expectation that student-teachers should undertake domestic work in deterring middle-class entrants to the profession.
- In May 1911 the Association of Teachers of Domestic Subjects issued the following suggestion concerning the qualification of teachers: 'If the subject is to be taught in the best possible way, with true scientific method in the elementary course of practical science, and also with thoroughness in the direct application to housecraft, two teachers are advisable: one, a specially qualified Science Mistress, and the other a specially qualified Mistress of Housecraft, holding Diplomas recognised by the Board of Education. By “specially qualified" it is suggested: – 1 . That the Science Mistress should have some knowledge of simple housecraft for use as illustrations in teaching; 2. That the Mistress of Housecraft should have some knowledge of hygiene, elementary chemistry, and physics . . . the Science and Housecraft mistresses should confer with one another, and should correlate their scheme of instruction as far as it is practicable.' Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English provide a brief account of the rise of domestic science in the USA in For her own good: 150 years of the experts' advice to women, (1979, reprint of 1978).
- Quoted in Dyhouse, op cit.
- Helen Sillitoe, A history of the teaching of domestic subjects (I933).
- See John Burnett, Plenty and want, a social history of diet in England from 1815 to the present day (1979).
- Burnett, op cit, surveying the diets of agricultural labourers in Cobbett's time and later, concluded that the advice given them by many well-meaning reformers was irrelevant.
- Jenni Calder, The Victorian home (1977).
- Sarah Stickney Ellis was the author of The daughters of England : their position in society, character and responsibilities (1842), The mothers of England (1843), The wives of England, relative duties, domestic influence, & social obligations (1843), and of numerous other works.
- For a full account of the argument that housework is, by definition, work performed by women unpaid within the family, see Christine Delphy, Close to home, trans D. Leonard (1984).
- lt is not difficult to find expressions of this view in popular account of domestic life before 1914. Marjorie Fibee, for instance, writes 'It never entered a Victorian housewife's head to consider whether or not a new article should be purchased because it might involve more work. There would always always be someone to do it', in A woman's place (1980).
- Theresa McBride, The domestic revolution (1976).
- Robert Kemp Philp provides a portrait of his grandfather's elderly servant 'Owley' in The housewife's reason why (). There is no shortage of examples in the nineteenth-century novel idealised mistress-servant relationships appear in Mrs. Gaskell's Cranford (1853), and Charles Dickens evokes the emotional bond between servants and children in several of his novels. In many ways the nostalgic view of sympathetic servants who were part of the family is the child's view and it is demolished less by changes in society than by the onset of adulthood.
- Evidence of literacy or illiteracy amongst servants is sparse and inconclusive. Theresa McBride, op cit, suggests that servants had relatively high levels of literacy, and states 'many of the handbooks on domestic service were written for servants'. She infers that since self-improvement was often a motive for entering domestic service, servants would want to better themselves in other ways. Literacy was an asset in domestic service, and servants had access to books and newspapers through their employers, who may also occasionally have taught them to read. McBride only gives statistics for France, which show that in 1872 78 per cent of female servants could read and write – although this may have meant that they were only barely literate. On the other hand, the author of Dinners and dinner Parties (1862) wrote: 'Not one in ten of the persons that go out as domestic servants knows her alphabet, and not one in twenty can read a book on cookery so as to understand it'. There must have been large regional variations, depending on what schooling, if any, was available to prospective servants, and other variables such as the number of servants in particular cities who were recent emigrants from Ireland, who had had no opportunities to become literate.
- The complete servant is cited by both Bitting and Oxford.
- Augusta Webster pointed out in A housewife's opinions (1879) that in England indoor menservants were used not for the heavier work but for the lighter: ' . . . the natural rule of households [abroad] is felt to be that work too hard for women servants is for menservants. In our system, the menservants accept only a light and lady-like share of anything that can be called housework . . . The natural rule of households with us is that work too hard for the menservants is for the womenservants'. The author of Practical economy (1 822) objected especially to men cooks, 'a silly custom copied from France', and argued for 'the diminution of male servants in general, thereby saving many miserable females from a life of infamy and desolation'.
- See Dorothy M. Stuart, The English Abigail (1946).
- According to Richard Altick (The English common reader, op cit) the annual output of the Religious Tract Society by 1861 was around twenty million tracts and thirteen million copies of periodicals. The S.P.C.K. was producing over eight million tracts in 1867, and the figure went up to eighteen million in 1897. Altick describes the nineteenth century religious tract as 'a ubiquitous part of the social landscape'.
- There was no actual shortage of unskilled female labour, a point Theresa McBride makes op cit, but complaints about the servant problem often referred specifically to the difficulties of finding servants who were already trained.
- See Dorothy Marshall, The English domestic servant in history (1949).
- Jonathan Swift, Directions to servants in general; and in particular to the butler, cook, footman, coachman, groom, house-steward and land-steward, porter, dairy-maid, chamber-maid, nurse, laundress, house-keeper, tutoress or governess, etc. (1745).
- McBride, op cit.
- Michael Young, The rise of the meritocracy (1980).
- William Buchan, Domestic medicine or, the family physician . . . (Edinburgh, 1769). For full details of editions of this work see Virginia Maclean, A short-title catalogue of household and cookery books printed in the English tongue 1701-1800 (1981).
- For a brief discussion of the vogues for hydropathy and homeopathy, see F.B. Smith, The people's health 1830-1910 (1979).
- Secret remedies: what they cost and what they contain. Based on analyses made for the British Medical Association (1909).
- A bibliography of nursing literature 1859-1960, edited and compiled by Alice M. Thompson (1968).
- The struggle between midwives and doctors for the rights of attend women in childbirth, use instruments and present themselves as experts has been documented by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English in Witches, midwives and nurses (1973).
- Lydia Child, The Frugal housewife (1832).
- Isabella Beeton, Household management (1861).
- I am indebted to Sara Delamont for the observation that, as women doctors had difficulty finding work once they qualified, many of them took up posts as medical officers to the new girls' schools. There is some evidence that the women authors of medical manuals were in a similar situation: Lydia Leney, for example, described herself as 'oculist to the London School Board' presumably meaning that she was paid to test children's eyesight. It seems likely that women doctors needed the income from their books as other sources were denied them, and that compared with men a relatively large number of them wrote manuals during this period.
- See Alice Thompson, op cit.
- Dr. Charles West, Lectures on the diseases of infancy and childhood (1848).
- Angus McLaren, Birth control in nineteenth-century England (1978).
- See F.B. Smith, op cit.
- Janet Blackman, 'Child health and diet in the nineteenth century' Social history of medicine bulletin, 13, 1974. Janet Blackman recounts the evidence for artificial feeding as a major cause of death: ' . . . the technology and the chemical knowledge of the make-up of foods ran ahead of the understanding, both medical and lay, of the sanitary conditions essential for successful artificial feeding'.
- The Earl of Chesterfield's letters to his illegitimate son B. Philip Stanhope advising him on his education, behaviour, manners and morals were published posthumously in 1774.
- John Trusler, The honours of the table (1788).
- Seven hundred domestic hints (1839). The author quotes Lord Wharncliffe's edition of the correspondence of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
- The section on carving in J.H. Walsh's Manual of domestic economy comments that a main advantage of 'the present fashionable method of serving a dinner', i.e. à la Russe, was that the butler could do all the carving at a side table, assuming there was a butler, thus avoiding the annoyance of having the fowl badly carved by a guest at the table. 'The mistress cannot always allot the task to a person who is skillful at this craft, and if the reverse takes place, she is annoyed at his bungling, for his sake as well as her own' (1879).
- Leonore Davidoff, The best circles: society, etiquette and the season (1973).
- Davidoff, op cit.