to be a hit this year. The guidebooks are seen now as amusing and wise -
and relevant in 2007.' -- Daily Express, May 29, 2007
`Today there are enough tomes about men being from Mars and weird
rules of dating... so it is expected that Blanche Ebbutt's oeuvre will
provide more comedy value than useful advice. And yet, and yet... there are
eternal verities there... There are plenty of gloriously retro bits about
women censoring their men's socks and husbands learning to "lead" rather
than "drive" their wives; but who could argue when Ebbutt says that there
is an art in being married, and that you should not "exhaust your artistic
power in getting married" but put some effort into staying that way... What
is required, Ebbutt hints from the grave, is simple niceness: be as
considerate towards a life partner as towards a friend... So, go on: clear
up those pencil sharpenings, chaps. And women, tell Him Indoors that his
hair looks nice. Can't hurt, can it?' -- Libby Purves, The Times, May 29, 2007
`Words of wisdom for a happy marriage from nearly a century ago...
The advice comes from a set of guidebooks on marriage written on the eve
of the First World War which are predicted to shoot to the top of the
bestseller list. The somewhat old-fashioned `Don'ts for Husbands and Wives'
penned by Blanche Ebbutt in 1913 were first published at a time when women
stayed at home while their husbands went out to work. Times have changed
since then, but the advice could be considered as relevant today as ever.' -- Daily Mail, May 28, 2007
`[Don'ts for Husbands and Don't's for Wives] could become this
year's most unlikely bestseller... The books were published in 1913 and
remained in print for 20 years. [The author's] wit and wisdom are set to
find a new audience when the guides are reprinted by A&C Black as part of
the publisher's bicentenary celebrations. The guides evoke a world where
domestic servants were taken for granted and men viewed women as
second-class citizens, to be patronised or set to work on domestic tasks.
Wives receive sisterly instructions designed to make them the best possible
partners for the flawed, often ridiculous men they have married.' -- The Times, May 28, 2007
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
DON'TS FOR HUSBANDS
Don't increase the necessary work of the house by leaving all your things
lying about in different places. If you are not tidy by nature, at least be
thoughtful for others.
Don't keep all your jokes for your men friends. Let your wife share them.
Don't hesitate to mention the fact when you think that your wife looks
exceptionally nice. Your thinking so can give her no pleasure unless you
tell your thought.
Don't "talk down" to your wife. She has as much intelligence as your
colleague at the office; she lacks only opportunity. Talk to her
(explaining when necessary) of anything you would talk of to a man, and you
will be surprised to find how she expands.
Don't sneer at your wife's cookery, or bridge-playing, or singing, or, in
fact at anything that she does. If you do, you may raise an animosity you
cannot easily allay.
Don't sharpen pencils all over the house, it does not improve either the
carpets or the servants' tempers to find pencil-sharpenings all over the
Don't try to regulate every detail of your wife's life. Even a wife is an
individual, and must be allowed some scope.
Don't try to `drive' your wife. You will find it much easier to `lead'
Don't say that your wife wastes time in reading, even if she only reads
Don't scoff if your wife wants to drive the car.
DON'TS FOR WIVES
Don't be discontented and think your husband not "manly" because he happens
to be short and thin, and not very strong. Manliness is not a purely
Don't omit to pay your husband an occasional compliment. If he looks nice
as he comes in dressed for the opera, tell him so. If he has been
successful with his chickens, or his garden, or his photography, compliment
him on his results.
Don't say "I told you so" to your husband, however much you feel tempted
to. It does no good, and he will be grateful to you for not saying it.
Don't let him have to search the house for you after his day's work. Listen
for his latch-key and meet him on the threshold.
Don't try to excite your husband's jealousy by flirting with other men. You
may succeed better than you want to. It is like playing with tigers and
edged tools and volcanoes all in one.
Don't let your husband wear a violet tie with grass-green socks. If he is
unhappily devoid of the colour sense, he must be forcibly restrained.
Don't forget if he is `nervy' to watch if the tea habit is getting too
strong in him.
Don't be afraid of cold meat. A few cookery lessons, or even a good
cookery-book, with the use of a little intelligence, will make you mistress
of delicious ways of serving up `left overs'.