Dear Library Patrons, The mission of NYPL is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities. Government support only pays for a portion of our work, so we rely on you to help - from stocking our shelves with amazing books, expanding our e-Book selection, classes, events, or even making free WiFi accessible to all. We are trying to raise $500,000 by December 31: an ambitious goal, but one that will fund incredible learning and reading in our community. Please consider donating to help keep our services free to all New Yorkers in 2015 >>

[]
[]

Below Stairs

The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"

Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Below Stairs
Print
This work is a kitchen-maid's through-the-key hole memoir of life in the great houses of England. At fifteen, she arrived at the servants' entrance to begin her life as a kitchen maid in 1920s England. The lowest of the low, her world was one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and even bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5:30 am and went on until after dark. In this memoir, the author tells her tales of service with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye. From the gentleman with a penchant for stroking housemaids' curlers, to raucous tea dances with errand boys, to the heartbreaking story of Agnes the pregnant under-parlourmaid, fired for being seduced by her mistress's nephew, this book evokes the long vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. This is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman, who, though her position was lowly, never stopped aiming high.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, [2012?]
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 1250005442
9781250005441
Branch Call Number: B Powell P
Characteristics: 212 p. ; 22 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

For all of us wanting the real scoop on living "below stairs" this is the book! Apparently, it was also the inspiration for the Robert Altman film "Gosford Park".


From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "This is a true recounting of Margaret Powell's unemotional memories of her time in service as a kitchen maid and cook for the British upper class. This is the book that inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"."

Dec 17, 2012
  • AuntJane rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This is an easy read book of Margaret Langley's life. Coming from a poverty stricken home in Hove, England, she took the only type of job she could get having completed school to the 8th grade and hating sewing. Her descriptions as scullery maid, and on-the-job learning and insights make for interesting reading. The historical how-tos are interesting too (sand and soap to scrub the floor, etc).

Oct 09, 2012
  • ownedbydoxies rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a straight-talking, hard-working woman who reminisces about her life in service to a wide variety of families in Britain before WWII. I laughed aloud several times at her descriptions of employers and herself. She was a smart woman, whose upbringing meant her opportunities in life were very limited, but she obviously made the best of things and worked her way into an extremely rewarding career in her later years, as a writer and television show consultant.

Aug 02, 2012
  • BucketsOfCool rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Easy to read and super interesting!

Apr 27, 2012
  • gracindaisy rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Memoir that inspired Downton Abbey & Upstairs, Downstairs - a woman enters domestic service at 14 as a kitchen maid, later a cook.

Apr 26, 2012
  • ErnieK rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A life "in service" told in her own voice, it's a great read. Very frank and forthright, a great contribution to the writings of women about work and its value in society.

Apr 03, 2012
  • gloryb rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A very readable memoir. I was struck with the contrast of life between teens today and Powell's teen years. Although as kitchen help she had to toe the line and claims she suffered from an inferiority complex, Powell's demand for more wages, time off, and frequent job changes as she matured shows us that she maintained a sense of self-worth. She is very proud of reaching her 0 levels late in life which was probably unique for someone with her background. I liked the glimpses into the life of her employers and how they each treated their servants differently from Christmas gift giving to decorating the servants hall and bedrooms.

Jan 20, 2012
  • hgeng63 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Kind of pedestrian to me, or maybe that's because I got most of the gist of it from excerpts from The World of Downton Abbey.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Find it at NYPL

  Loading...

Buy It Now

Support your library, keep it forever!

View Purchase Options Learn more about this program

Your Cart

Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:

If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.

You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.

To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.

All items will be removed from your cart.


I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.

Explore Further


Browse the Shelf

Subject Headings


Recommendations

  Loading...

Powered by BiblioCommons.
app10 Version gurli Last updated 2014/12/09 10:52