Dr Pamela Cox explores what happened when servants directly challenged their masters and mistresses, causing havoc in the golden age of Edwardian society.
It is the story of wayward laundry maids, butlers selling their stories to the press, and even suffragette maids. Above all, it is the story of how the Victorian 'ideal' of service came to be questioned - not by employers, but by the servants themselves.
The middle classes had an insatiable need for servants in their heavily furnished townhouses, but at the same time the number of people in the so-called 'servant class' dropped, as young workers were lured into shops and factories. To plug the gap, a new source of servants was found - shockingly, among the urban poor - mopping up orphans, waifs and strays from slums, workhouses and reforms schools and training them for careers in domestic service. As the clouds of war gathered, the whole notion of service was in crisis.