Knowing Their Place: Domestic service in twentieth-century Britain

Knowing Their Place: Domestic service in twentieth-century Britain

By: Lucy Delap (author)Paperback

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Historians have traditionally seen domestic service as an obsolete or redundant sector from the middle of the twentieth century. Knowing Their Place challenges this by linking the early twentieth-century employment of maids and cooks to later practices of employing au pairs, mothers' helps, and cleaners. Lucy Delap tells the story of lives and labour within British homes, from great houses to suburbs and slums, and charts the interactions of servants and employers along with the intense controversies and emotions they inspired. Knowing Their Place also examines the employment of men and migrant workers, as well as the role of laughter and erotic desire in shaping domestic service. The memory of domestic service and the role of the past in shaping and mediating the present is examined through heritage and televisual sources, from Upstairs, Downstairs to The 1900 House. Drawing from advice manuals, magazines, novels, cinema, memoirs, feminist tracts, and photographs, this fascinating book points to new directions in cultural history through its engagement in innovative areas such as the history of emotions and cultural memory. Through its attention to the contemporary rise in the employment of domestic workers, Knowing Their Place sets modern Britain in a new and compelling historical context.

About Author

Lucy Delap is a social and cultural historian with research interests in feminism, class, religion, and gender. Her book The Feminist Avant-Garde: Transatlantic Encounters of the early twentieth century was published in 2007 and won the 2008 Women's History Network Prize. She co-edited The Politics of Domestic Authority in Britain since 1800 (2009), contributed to Feminist Media History (2010), and has published widely on British and American feminism. She was educated in London, Swaziland and Cambridge, and taught at the University of Cambridge until moving to King's College London in 2013.


Introduction ; 1. Twentieth Century Servants ; 2. Servant-Keepers and the Management of Servants ; 3. 'Doing for Oneself': the Evolving Servantless Home ; 4. Kitchen-Sink Laughter: Domestic Service Humour ; 5. 'The Good, the Bad, and the Spicy': Servants in Pornography and Erotica ; 6. Heritage Nostalgia: Domestic Service Remembered and Performed ; Conclusion ; Bibliography

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780198718246
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 278
  • ID: 9780198718246
  • weight: 408
  • ISBN10: 0198718241

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