Lethbridge’s book charts the ‘halting escape of women from servitude’. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
“Money might not buy happiness but it certainly sponsors battiness. Waldorf Astor only liked milk from his own herd, so whenever the Astors went to Scotland, one of their cows would travel with them on the train.” Craig Brown in the Mail on Sunday praised Lucy Lethbridge’s Servants: A Downstairs View of Twentieth-century Britain as “exhaustively researched and delightfully well-written”. “There are plenty of … tales of pointless etiquette and jaw-dropping extravagance … Up until his death in 1940, the Duke of Bedford employed 60 indoor servants just to look after him and his wife, along with eight chauffeurs.”
Peer behind the ornate clothing, sprawling manors, and addictive story lines that have riveted millions of television viewers. Featuring interviews with the writers, directors, and stars of iconic productions, this series reveals how the often controversial sagas altered the television landscape and launched the careers of many young actors.
From 1955’s fanciful Adventures of Robin Hood to 2007’s racy Fanny Hill, costume dramas have toppled taboos and quickened pulses. Programs like Edward & Mrs. Simpson ruffled establishment feathers, while popular series Upstairs, Downstairs and The Forsyte Saga emptied pubs, wrecked social calendars, and forced vicars to revise parish schedules. Narrated by Keeley Hawes (Wives and Daughters) and seen on PBS, it’s required viewing for any fan of British television.