It is really hard for us now in our society to imagine a time when even people on very modest incomes and in very ordinary circumstances had servants; when my mother was a child her family were actually quite poor, and grandpa only had work every so often, but even so, they had a maid, a local village girl who worked mainly in the kitchen but also did other household chores. Maybe with four young children it was difficult to cope for grandma, but we just can’t imagine it now – to have servants, with all that implies in the way they were treated and thought of. These days people might have cleaners or nannies, but most ordinary people wouldn’t think of themselves as superior or above people who were paid to help in the house.
I’m sure the war changed the situation greatly but even after the war, in 1951, Philip and Katherine Harben published a book called ‘Entertaining at Home’ and a critic described it as ‘A boon to the servantless housewife‘. This is how the book is described –
‘Entertaining at Home’ is addressed to the host and hostess who do their own cooking for themselves and their guests. The authors believe that good dinners can be cooked without strain on the host or hostess who should be able to sit down happily with their guests and enjoy their own meal – without having to worry and rush out behind the scenes to put things right! hence the main feature of this book consists of a series of recipes for complete meals, each one worked out to the last technical detail, which the host or hostess (however inexperienced can cook and enjoy And there is ample choice between simple meals and festive meals.