Mrs. Woolf and the servants: an intimate history of domestic life in Bloomsbury

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When Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One's Own in 1929, she established her reputation as a feminist, and an advocate for unheard voices. But like thousands of other upper-class British women, Woolf relied on live-in domestic servants for the most intimate of daily tasks. That room of Woolf's own was kept clean by a series of cooks and maids throughout her life. In the much-praised Mrs. Woolf and the Servants , Alison Light probes the unspoken inequality of Bloomsbury homes with insight and grace, and provides an entirely new perspective on an essential modern artist.
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9781596915602
9781608192427
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Grouped Work ID c399da0a-3f40-68d2-ee6e-b0439b61ac55
Full title mrs woolf and the servants an intimate history of domestic life in bloomsbury
Author light alison
Grouping Category book
Last Update 2018-06-22 22:54:27PM
Last Indexed 2018-06-22 23:30:10PM

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author Alison Light
author_display Light, Alison
available_at_catalog Main Kids, Main Library
collection_catalog Non-Fiction
detailed_location_catalog Main Library - Adult Non-Fiction
display_description

Loathing, anger, shame – and deep affection: Virginia Woolf's relationship with her servants was central to her life. Like thousands of her fellow Britons she relied on live-in domestics for the most intimate of daily tasks. Her cook and parlour maid relieved her of the burden of housework and without them she might never have become a writer. But unlike many of her contemporaries Virginia Woolf was frequently tormented by her dependence on servants. Uniquely, she explored her violent, often vicious, feelings in her diaries, novels and essays. What, the reader might well wonder, was it like for the servants to live with a mistress who so hated giving her orders, and who could be generous and hostile by turns?Through the prism of the writer's life and work, Alison Light explores the volatile, emotional territory which is the hidden history of domestic service. Compared to most employers in Britain between the wars, Leonard and Virginia Woolf were free and easy. Life in the Bloomsbury circle of writers and artists was often fun. Yet despite being liberal in outlook, these were also households where the differences in upbringing and education were acute: employers and servants were still 'us' and 'them'. The women who worked for the Woolfs, like other domestic servants, have usually been relegated to the margins of history, yet unearthing their lives reveals fascinating stories: of Sophie Farrell, the Victorian cook and 'family treasure', who ended her days in a London bed-sit; Lottie Hope, the parlour maid, a foundling, who'd been left on a doorstep like a parcel; and Nellie Boxall, the Woolfs' cook, who was finally dismissed after sixteen years of rows and reconciliations, only to find herself a more glamorous job. Mrs Woolf and the Servants is a riveting and highly original study of one of Britain's greatest literary modernists. Ultimately, though, it is also a moving and eloquent testimony to the ways in which individual creativity always needs the support of others.

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id c399da0a-3f40-68d2-ee6e-b0439b61ac55
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literary_form Non Fiction
literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_catalog 823.912 W9135L
owning_library_catalog Nashville Public Library
owning_location_catalog Main Kids, Main Library
primary_isbn 9781596915602
publishDate 2008, 2010
record_details ils:CARL0000319199|Book|Books|1st U.S. ed.|English|Bloomsbury Press,|2008.|xxiii, 376 p. : ill. ; 25 cm., overdrive:f558b3d1-fced-4922-8309-c2bfa8f57164|eBook|eBook||English|Bloomsbury Publishing Plc|2010|
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subject_facet Authors, English -- 20th century -- Biography, Bloomsbury (London, England) -- Biography, Bloomsbury (London, England) -- Social life and customs, Bloomsbury group, Women domestics -- Great Britain -- Biography, Woolf, Virginia, -- 1882-1941 -- Employees
title_display Mrs. Woolf and the servants : an intimate history of domestic life in Bloomsbury
title_full Mrs. Woolf and the Servants An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury, Mrs. Woolf and the servants : an intimate history of domestic life in Bloomsbury / Alison Light
title_short Mrs. Woolf and the servants :
title_sub an intimate history of domestic life in Bloomsbury
topic_facet Authors, English, Biography & Autobiography, Bloomsbury group, Employees, Nonfiction, Social life and customs, Women domestics, Woolf, Virginia