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Neither pleasant professions in Victorian times. Their place in the familial/domestic hierarchy was very, very grey. Well born and well educated with the requisite skills of the upper class female—embroidery, knitting, tatting, fine sewing—they were practically invisible.

The stories told in the many varied forms of the romance genre are all too likely to be true. Many ladies became prostitutes. They had no other recourse, if their husband/fathers left them penniless.

Although social status at birth matched that of the women or children for whom they would work, lack of funds reduced them to a position of near penury. Many were required to assume domestic duties bearing no relationship to the duties of either governess or companion.

Accustomed to having positions of authority in many matters in their own homes, imagine the difficulty in being as plain as possible and grateful for any crumbs which might fall their way. They were often resented by the other servants, who saw them as peers with ideas above their stations.

Poorly paid, invisible, often raped (and if caught, let go without a character, which guaranteed it would be almost impossible for them to obtain another position), they were extremely vulnerable.

Horrid novels—tales replete with phantasms and evil masters who were sometimes good men hiding behind a mask for definite purposes—offered escape for many. But many, many more were forbidden to read “such trash”, and, if caught, were fired forthwith—usually without their quarterly wages. 


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Feature Book



"With equal measures of humour and heart, Marilyn Temmer skilfully writes a world from a bygone era. Her characters spring from the page and make us long for a simpler time when dancing meant a waltz." Terry Fallis

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