Domestic advice manuals

Illustration of two women dancing in large dresses at a ball

Eat, pray, decorate

Advice manuals – the self-help books of the 19th century – provide a rich source of information about domestic and social life in the era

Detail frontispiece Female Instructor

Guides for domestic economy

In the fields of domestic economy, readership comprised chiefly young married women

Chesterfield illustration detail

Guides for etiquette

Some of the smallest volumes in the collection are etiquette manuals

Drawing room Orrinsmith room retail

Guides for home furnishing

Advice on home decorating had traditionally been written by men for men

Frontispiece Frugal housewife Mrs Child

Guides for masters and mistresses

Advice manuals in this category may on the surface appear paradoxical. The works provide ready reference on the varied duties of male and female domestic service roles

 The servant's book of reference; or, butler's, housemaid's and footman's assistant / by J.R. Blonsell , circa 1840

Guides for servants

Guides for servants were written by authors from varied social classes, including ex-servants