£29.21
  • RRP: £30.00
  • You Save: £0.79 (3%)
FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Trade in your item
Get a £4.62
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Household Gods: A History of the British and Their Possessions Hardcover – 24 Oct 2006


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
£29.21
£17.95 £10.98


Trade In this Item for up to £4.62
Trade in Household Gods: A History of the British and Their Possessions for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £4.62, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (24 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300112130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300112139
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 20.1 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 509,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born into a family with its own fair share of secrets, Deborah Cohen was educated at Harvard and Berkeley. She teaches British history at Northwestern University, where she holds the Ritzma Professorship of the Humanities.

Her last book was the award-winning Household Gods, a history of the British love-affair with the home.

Her website is www.deborahacohen.com. She tweets from @deborahacohen.

Product Description

Review

'Household Gods is engagingly written, well researched and
beautifully illustrated. It makes a significant contribution to our
understanding of consumption.' -- Times Higher Education Supplement, March 16, 2007

'entertaining and scholarly..' -- Times Literary Supplement, February 9, 2007

'... one of the achievements of this subtle book is that, in learning about a lost world, we think harder about our own.'
-- Margaret Ponsonby, Reviews in History, May 2008

'...Household Gods is an extremely well-researched and fascinating approach to a subject that couldn't be more timely, considering the plethora of home-decorating television programs that have cropped up in the past decade.' -- International Auctioneers Magazine, Autumn 2007

'Household Gods is an insightful and compelling approach to a
well-trodden topic.'
-- The Guardian, November 4, 2006

'Readable and excellent illustrated.' -- The Tablet, August 11, 2007

'This is a good book, and a salutary one.'
-- Literary Review, October 2006

'[An] excellent new history of the British and their
possessions.'
-- Ben Macintyre, The Times, September 16 2006

About the Author

Deborah Cohen is associate professor of history at Brown University. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
2
4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Artsreadings on 22 Jun 2009
Format: Hardcover
Deborah Cohen has provided the reader with a fascinating book on the relation of Britons with their belongings at home.

"Material Good" analyizes the ways in which purchasing furniture, and shopping could become a worthy pursuit with its assimilation to moral values, on a backgorund of evangelical self-restraint.

"Cathedrals to Commerce" focuses on the business side of furniture provision, shops, stores, traders and suppliers.

"Art at home" scrutinizes the way interior decoration and furnishing could become the British contribution to arts in everyday life, alongside the fine arts.

"In possession" accounts for the progressive shift in responsibility for interior furnishing from men to women towards the end of the 19th century.

"Home as a stage" surveys the wild diversity of decoration which developed in stores and houses when the mantra became the expression of individuality thanks to specific styles, colours and accessories.

"Designs on the past" focuses on the crave for antique objects as a protest against and refusal of manufactured objects, and as an expression of self-restraint. Old objects were also fascinating for the life of their own they were meant to have, charged with history and spirits from the past.

"Modern Living" tells about the developments of furniture design and interior decoration in the aftermath of WWI, in the 1920s and 1930s, with the difficulties encountered by supporters of modernism in the house, to propagate radical ideas in terms of style and materials.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Sep 2007
Format: Hardcover
Deborah Cohen's book is a fascinating study on a number of levels. From its starting point as a history of the domestic interior of middle class homes from the Victorian era into the early twentieth century, it serves as a lens for examining the history of the period on a number of different levels. What emerges is an entertaining account of the democratization of taste that accompanied the growth of consumerism in the nineteenth century, one that reflected and presaged broader changes taking place in British society.

Cohen starts with a quote from a modern-day reverend bemoaning Britain's current obsession with do-it-yourself stores which she sets up as an ironic counterpoint to the past, as in many ways the modern obsession with home decoration can be traced to the Evangelical movement of the nineteenth century. Prior to then, taste was the domain of the upper classes, inherent and exclusive to them. As the middle class prospered, however, its Evangelical members wrestled with the impact of the growing consumerism upon their souls. Their ingenious solution was not to reject materialism but to embrace it by stressing the moral impact goods made, and to channel consumption towards embodying godly virtues.

Though the impact of Evangelism faded as the century wore on, the passion for decoration only grew. The middle class increasingly sought to define themselves by their household possessions, taking advantage of both their increasing wealth and the diminishing cost of household goods.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Victorian possessions and their owners 4 Sep 2007
By MarkK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Deborah Cohen's book is a fascinating study on a number of levels. From its starting point as a history of the domestic interior of middle class homes from the Victorian era into the early twentieth century, it serves as a lens for examining the history of the period on a number of different levels. What emerges is an entertaining account of the democratization of taste that accompanied the growth of consumerism in the nineteenth century, one that reflected and presaged broader changes taking place in British society.

Cohen starts with a quote from a modern-day reverend bemoaning Britain's current obsession with home improvement stores which she sets up as an ironic counterpoint to the past, as in many ways the modern obsession with home decoration can be traced to the Evangelical movement of the nineteenth century. Prior to then, taste was the domain of the upper classes, inherent and exclusive to them. As the middle class prospered, however, its Evangelical members wrestled with the impact of the growing consumerism upon their souls. Their ingenious solution was not to reject materialism but to embrace it by stressing the moral impact goods made, and to channel consumption towards embodying godly virtues.

Though the impact of Evangelism faded as the century wore on, the passion for decoration only grew. The middle class increasingly sought to define themselves by their household possessions, taking advantage of both their increasing wealth and the diminishing cost of household goods. Cohen charts the many trends that emerged from this, such as the development of home-furnishing stores (many of which gradually divested themselves from their additional earlier role as undertakers), the growing embrace of the "artistic" as an ability for self-expression, and the gradual shift in the responsibility for decorating the home from men to women. She also describes the reaction from the traditional class of wealthier consumers, who began collecting older furniture, creating a market for "antiques" that allowed them to maintain class distinctions and distinguish themselves from the broader consuming public.

Engagingly written and supported by numerous illustrations, Cohen's book is an excellent study of its subject. From her analysis of household goods and interior decoration, Cohen provides insight into the cultural, social, and economic developments of the era, making this a must read study for anyone interested in the Victorian era and the modern world that emerged from it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant and Insightful 20 July 2009
By David Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"A man's home is his castle" and no more so than in England, asserts Cohen in this excellent survey of consumerism in Great Britain from 1830 - 1930. Her survey touches on the ideas that began in the Georgian period, matured during the Victorian era and reached the fullness of their fruition during the inter-war period in the United Kingdom. The text is engaging enough to hold the casual reader of history, and yet well researched and documented enough to be useful to the dedicated historian. If you have ever yearned to walk down the street of Victorian London and see what was in the shops, this book is your window on that world.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The English as Collectors 14 July 2007
By Richard H. Cady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a antiquarian book and manuscript dealer for almost forty years I am always interested in why and how collectors collect. This book is a delight. Well researched, very readable, and the selection of illustration is wonderful. I bought another copy to send as a gift.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Goods as a window into the soul 31 May 2009
By Janie Coffey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In "Household Gods" Deborah Cohen takes us on a tour of the hearts and homes of 100 years of middle-class England. The tour is not linear, but rather winds and weaves through the streets and changing trends and perspectives of the middling class from the 1830s-1930s. Cohen, through a rich and deep study of both primary and secondary sources, shows the reader how home decor and consumerism were (and are) not just following design fads, but often windows into the political and religious values and movements at given places in time. Items as simple as a chair can be seen as something so much more to the owner than simply a place to sit you bum. It could be a reflection of your religious values, it could be an expression of your deepest self (individual personality) or your darkest fear, it could be an expression (to yourself or others) of your place (or desired place) in society.

Goods and material items both helped express the man and "make the man", as disposable income grew and restrictions on class mobility shrank; household items and outfitting a home became both a way to express a person's religious, personal and social views and stance as well as a rung to actually help climb the social ladder. The view of personal expression through consumer goods wove a trail trough religious expression, unique personal identity to risk aversion and safety. Household goods reflected at a micro level the changing of the views and place in society of the middle class at a macro level.

Of particular fun was Cohen's chapter on the establishment of valuing and collecting antiques. Anyone who has an interest in "antiquing", in the US or across the pond, would enjoy this chapter and learn that our roots of almost making antique hunting a near-religion can be traced back to only the last 150 years.

Once you read Cohen's book and understand the deeper meanings of our "things", you will never look at household goods, in history or anywhere else, quite the same. You will look deeper and wonder, "What did the owner hope to achieve when they purchased this? What did this convey about them, to themselves and the outside world? Did this item reflect any religious/political viewpoint?"

Cohen wraps up the book with an epilogue which covers briefly the extension of our Cult of Home Improvement into the 21st Century with the proliferation of such home renovation and shopping shows as "Changing Rooms'" (the UK version and "Trading Spaces") and "Property Ladder", showing us just how much the cult of home of the 19th Century is not so far different from that of the 21st. A lovely and beautiful book which is both scholarly yet easily readable, "Household Gods" is likely to be a treasure for academics and consumer's alike, and might be a self-fulfilling prophesy as I can see more than one person placing it on their coffee table to help set them in a "class above the rest".
Fascinating Reading and about more than furniture. 30 Dec 2013
By Virginia Grayson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I will never look at home decor the same way again. The writing is crisp and very insightful regarding social norms during the Victorian, Edwardian eras. The insights apply to today's American homes as well. I have a new understanding of what my friends might be thinking when decorating their homes - now if I can just figure out what's been influencing me!
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know

Look for similar items by category


Feedback