The Victorian House
domestic life from childbirth to deathbed
Publisher: Harper Perennial London 2004
Judith Flanders takes a novel approach to rediscovering the lives of our 19th century forebears with a room-by-room guide to a typical mid-Victorian family home. The book starts in the bedroom and works its way downstairs through the principal parts of a middle-class home. Particular attention is paid to the operations side of the household--the bathroom, the kitchen and the scullery--where the Victorian preoccupation with cleanliness and food is well-described. Flanders also draws out the decorative functions of the Victorian home, bringing out the separate male and female domains of the drawing room and the parlour.
A wealth of detail--from advice books such as Mrs Beeton's cookbooks, novels, contemporary magazines and autobiographies--is crammed into each room. Flanders also uses the house as a base from which Victorian attitudes towards servants, marriage, illness, death and religion can be explored.