Servants: English Domestics in the Eighteenth Century
The importance of domestic service in the eighteenth century has long been recognised by historians but apart from a number of recent controversial articles, this is the first detailed study of the subject since J. Jean Hecht's book of 1956. Bridget Hill's essays question the stereotype of the domestic servant - usually male and most often in large households employing many servants where a strict hierarchy prevailed - that has dominated all discussion hitherto. Using eighteenth-century diaries, journals and memoirs as well as the press and literature of the period, she examines the lives of the majority of domestic servants, who were employed in more modest establishments, or in single or two-servant households. The book looks at the life of pauper apprentices to service, paid little or nothing for their efforts, and at the frequency with which both near and distant kin were employed as unpaid, or badly-paid, domestic servants. It also examines the vulnerability of female domestic servants to sexual harassment and discusses the sexuality of servants. Bridget Hill's fascinating and detailed essays provide a new perspective on an important facet of English domestic life in the eighteenth century.
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