Behind Closed Doors : At Home in Georgian England Paperback
In this brilliant new work, Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of the people who lived there.
Writing with her customary wit and verve, she introduces us to men and women from all walks of life: gentlewoman Anne Dormer in her stately Oxfordshire mansion, bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in his dreary London lodgings, genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms with yellow wallpaper, servants with only a locking box to call their own.
Vickery makes ingenious use of upholsterer's ledgers, burglary trials, and other unusual sources to reveal the roles of house and home in economic survival, social success, and political representation during the long eighteenth century.
Through the spread of formal visiting, the proliferation of affordable ornamental furnishings, the commercial celebration of feminine artistry at home, and the currency of the language of taste, even modest homes turned into arenas of social campaign and exhibition.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 368 pages, 80 b/w + 25 color illus.
- Publisher: Yale University Press
- Publication Date: 20/08/2010
- Category: British & Irish history
- ISBN: 9780300168969
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Review by ponsonby
This book has had considerable good reviews - some of them reproduced selectively in my paperback copy; but after reading most of the book I found myself wondering whether the praise was quite accurate. The book is undoubtedly interesting, and encapsulates a good deal of original research into sources on domesticity in the Georgian period (though this period is conveniently stretched to get a wider range of sources included). An example of this is the chapter which uses the records of a wallpaper company to draw conclusions about the class and gender characteristics of taste in decoration. And there are many original diaries etc used which reveal the domestic aspects of a wide range of lives. What this book does not do is 'read like a novel' as one review claims. It is more like a monograph masquerading as popular history.