In my upcoming release, Not Quite Darcy, I researched the lives of the working class in Victorian London. Specifically, maids. If a couple of odd gentlemen ever offer you a chance to step through a mirror and take up a role in a house in nineteenth century England, it might do to learn a few simple rules to help ease your adjustment.
- Never let your voice be heard by the ladies and gentlemen of the house.
- Never begin to talk to ladies and gentlemen.
- Servants should never offer any opinion to their employers, not even to say good night.
- Never talk to another servant in the presence of your mistress.
- Never call from one room to another.
- No servant is to receive any visitor, friend or relative into the house.
- Any maid found fraternising with a member of the opposite sex will be dismissed without a hearing.
It’s not all grim, however. They can’t work you 24/7 after all. As mid-range maid it would be more like 5 am to 10 pm, usually seven days a week. This conveniently removes the worry about fraternizing, as you’ll have no time for it!
All this for the generous wage of fifteen to twenty pounds per year! The line forms to my right.