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Mrs. Woolf and the servants : an intimate history of domestic life in Bloomsbury
Alison Light
Adult Nonfiction PR6045.O72 Z787 2008

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Virginia Woolf is a feminist icon, and her husband, Leonard, was a committed socialist and supporter of workers' rights. Yet, says Light, in this fresh take on Bloomsbury, the couple perpetuated the class system by paying a pittance to their charwoman. In her attempt to restore the servants to the Bloomsbury story, Light also ruminates about whether the dependence of Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell, on their assorted live-in maids and cooks plays havoc with the idealized image of them as bohemian, free women creating a new kind of life. Light also dissects Woolf's fictional servants as a window into contemporary social class prejudices and delves into the personal histories of Woolf's servants in context with their peers. British scholar Light (Forever England), the granddaughter of a live-in domestic, often seems to be pushing a personal agenda, and her insistence that without the hard work of the servants there would have been no Bloomsbury is unconvincing, yet her analyses of both the Bloomsbury notables and the servant class of their time are deft and engrossing. Illus. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Light (Forever England: Femininity, Literature and Conservatism Between the Wars) takes a different approach to Virginia Woolf by examining not only her life but also the lives of the domestic servants who worked for her. She provides an interesting social history of the maids, cooks, and other domestics who served Woolf and her family, interspersing their stories with Woolf's. Born into a wealthy family, Woolf never knew a world without domestic help, but she often struggled with her employees. The five lengthy sections focus on the different servants who worked for Woolf. The writer and her family left a plethora of letters, but the domestics in their employ left little correspondence or memoirs, which made presenting their side of the story challenging. Light, whose grandmother worked as a kitchen maid, succeeds in describing the hardships of a domestic's life. This literary Upstairs/Downstairs is recommended for all academic libraries that support English literature and English history collections.--Erica Swenson Danowitz, Delaware Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Media, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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