Planet Online

Bethan Gwanas reviews
A Detested Occupation? A History of Domestic Servants in North Wales 1800-1930 by Annie Williams
Votes for Women – The North Wales Suffragists’ Campaign 1907-1914 by Barbara Lawson-Reay

A Detested Occupation?

Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, £7.50

I emitted a silent scream when I saw the title of A Detested Occupation? Let me explain: I recently published a fact-based novel about a Welsh domestic servant from Dolgellau who was sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay in 1833, and I spent ten years writing and researching the damn thing. Why, oh why couldn’t this have been written sooner? It would have saved me so much time and frustration. As Annie Williams states, trying to find information about the lives of female servants in the 19th century is difficult. Despite the fact that ‘From 1871 to 1901, domestic service accounted for over half the total number of women employed in Wales’, historians ‘neglected the subject because matters of a “domestic” nature concerning women were not regarded as being historically significant’. Material concerning women from Wales is even harder to come by, but Williams has managed to put together a detailed account of the lives of female servants in north Wales.

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