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Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England Hardcover – 2 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Third Impression edition (2 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300154534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300154535
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amanda Vickery is the writer and presenter of BBC2's 'At Home with the Georgians' based on her book Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England (Yale, 2009)

Amanda is a Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London.

Her first book The Gentleman's Daughter (Yale, 1998) won the Wolfson, the Whitfield and the Longman-History today prizes. Her 30 part History of Private Life for BBC Radio 4 is available on CD. She is currently working on another series of the popular Radio 4 show 'Voices from the Old Bailey'.

Amanda Vickery is also the editor of Women, Privilege and Power: British Politics, 1750 to the Present (Stanford, 2001) and Gender, Taste and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830 (Yale, 2006).

Amanda has begun a new project on clothes and fashion in the British empire.

Product Description

Review

'Unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of their inhabitants.' --Bookseller Preview, July 2009

About the Author

Amanda Vickery is reader in history, Royal Holloway University of London, and the author of 'The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England', which won the Whitfield, Wolfson, and Longman-History Today prizes. She is also the co-editor, with John Styles, of 'Gender, Taste and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830'.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By J. F. Wakefield on 1 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am a great fan of Amanda Vickery's books. And I think that they should be required reading for anyone interested in the social history of the Georgian era.

Her previous work, "The Gentleman's Daughter" was a wonderfully detailed exploration of the intimate lives of women in the 18th century and helped many of us to a greater understanding of Jane Austen's female character's lives, setting them in a recognisable historical context .Her new book "Behind Closed Doors : at home in Georgian England" once again takes the domestic realm as it subject but details it on a much wider scale.

She does not concentrate on one class of people but considers, in minute detail, the intimate lives of landladies and lodgers, tradesmen and women, professionals and aristocrats living in both London and in the provinces.

Its scale is breathtaking and the detail, delicious. And what I really adore is that she admits the historical truth of Jane Austen's writings by including copious quotes from the six novels to illustrate her points. Indeed, she devotes almost half a chapter of the book to consider the way in which the subject of the home is treated by Austen's heroines and heroes, even going so far as to paraphrase the famous opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Georgian house with a drawing room,French windows and lawns must be in want of a mistress..."

It was an irresistible and understandable opportunity ....I daresay had I been given the chance to play with that famous line, I would not have let it pass either...
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
An Englishman's home, as the saying goes, may be his castle, but three hundred years ago it was becoming so much more. In the 18th century, the English home served as a place in which its inhabitants sought to define themselves through the use of décor. As more people socialized in their homes, their living spaces became venues in which their identity could be displayed for others to see for themselves. The emergence and development of this trend is the subject of Amanda Vickery's book, which analyzes the lives of the men and women of Georgian England by examining the homes in which they lived.

In studying Georgian homes, Vickery uses a number of different perspectives. Among her goals is the reintroduction of men into the picture, which she does most notably in her chapter on the homes of bachelors. Yet as she demonstrates, the furnishing and decoration of homes was predominantly a female concern, albeit one often handled in consultation with the men of the household. Such decisions were often mundane, and focused more on simple maintenance rather than grand refurbishment, but all of them reflected the interests of the participants and were shaped by the concept of "taste" that emerged during this period, which charted a path that increasing numbers were compelled to take.

Detailed, insightful, and well-written, Vickery's book offers a fascinating examination of life in Georgian England. Because of the limitations of her sources, it is by necessity an examination focused primarily on the upper classes, yet she succeeds in taking account books, ledgers, and other mundane sources to reconstruct their lives, showing the growing importance of home life and the weight contemporaries placed on defining their domestic environment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Bloxham on 22 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A carefully researched and vigourously presented study of Georgian homelife as interpreted through building, decor, fashion and customs. The study of domestic accounts and of personal correspondence is particularly good, and the contemporary illustrations relate well to the text. The emphasis on the relative roles of men and women in domestic and financial arrangements provides fascinating insight into what many have considered to be a male-dominated society.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By grantz on 8 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
`Behind Closed Doors' is an astonishing achievement. To say I enjoyed it is an understatement, really - the effect of the book was truly thrilling, in a way you don't expect when you take an academic book off a library shelf.

The writing in the main body of the text let the reader experience an incredibly direct engagement with eighteenth century lives, but at the same time this experience was contextualised by the controlling argument on the book - and all this underpinned by the terrifying range of sources listed in the notes. This is an amazing book. Just order it.
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31 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Biba on 14 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an obviously well researched book, with Vickery pulling from many different sources. However, with many repetitions of statements already made (often in the same chapter), it seems the book could have been almost half its size. The chapters themselves also seem to deal with very much the same subject in households, namely, the difference and relationship between men and women. Fair enough, but not as varied as the description of the book would have you believe.
There are also statements of the blindingly obvious, such as- when someone wipes faeces on your front door, it is a statement of their personal dislike of you....Wow. You don't say. Another gem was 'kitchens represented not just a special room for the business of cooking, but also a space for storing the expanding battery of equipment employed for processing food and drink.' Right-not the most informative of sentences, but admittedly true- still, not really restricted to the 18th and 19th century's.
I personally think the author made more of an effort to sound intellectual rather than impart actual knowledge deserving of a book of this size. I learnt, but not as much as I hoped to, and the book was therefore a bit of a struggle to read- waiting for the repetition and obvious statements to end, and for the learning to begin.
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