On the history and resurgence of British servants

After World War II, commentators predicted that the welfare state would conspire with electric appliances to kill off domestic service. By 1947, 94 percent of households surveyed employed no help, and between 1951 and 1961 the number of domestic servants halved. However, Leth­bridge’s story ends with a twist. Since 1978, household expenditure on domestic service has quadrupled, bringing the absolute number of domestics in London back to Victorian levels, according to some estimates.

That passage is from a Leah Price review of Lucy Lethbridge’s new book Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain From the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times.


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