The Victorian Era in Britain

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The Victorian era in Britain was one of great dependency upon the women employed in domestic service. Domestic service was a very popular line of work for women in this period, in fact “about 40 percent of all women in Victorian Britain were employed…and a majority were domestic servants,” which showcases both the popularity and dependency upon domestic servant jobs. Many of the servants during this period were considered maids of all work, and it was this type of servant who ensured the efficient running and maintenance of many middle class households. This was because “the average middle class household did not usually have a valet, footman, or butler, but a cook, housemaid, and a maid of all work were essential.” Thus, revealing the reliance on a maid of all work to ensure that all duties of the household were completed.
As will be discussed, becoming a domestic servant in the nineteenth century witnessed a dramatic change in viewpoint from the previous century, as the role was no longer considered a calling from God . During this period, writers who produced household manuals to be used as a guidebook within a household, such as Isabella Beeton, also became a popular resource for servants lucky enough to have been employed to serve in a servants position within a household. These household manuals have helped to reveal that the job of being a maid of all work was a labour intensive job which was only made more complex by ensuring that her duties were completed in a way that was least disruptive to her employers, meaning she must be unobserved in her work.
According to Heycks’ text The People of the British Isles 1699-1870, “the demand for servants generated by the middle class, was a rapidly growing industry, the second lar...

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...yearly Sum, and from one Day to one Year. The Whole containing great Variety of curious, useful, instructive, and important Articles, for the Use and Benefit of Servants in general, never before published. London, [1764]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. UNIV OF PRINCE EWDARD ISLAND. 19 Feb, 2014. 87.

Secondary sources:
Burton, Elizabeth. The Early Victorians at Home 1837 - 1861. London: Longman Group Limited, 1972.
Flanders, Judith. Inside the Victorian Home A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England . New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2004.
Heyck, Thomas William. The Peoples of the British Isles From 1688 to 1870 Third Edition. Chicago: Lyceum Books, Inc., 2008.
Higgs, Edward. "Domestic servants and households in Victorian England." Social History. no. 2 (1983): 201-210. (accessed March 22, 2014).
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