Mrs Woolf and the Servants

Mrs Woolf and the Servants

Mrs Woolf and the Servants discovers the lives of those who worked for the writer, Virginia Woolf, and her Bloomsbury circle.

It is about class feeling in all its intimacy and messiness and is also a study of domestic service - the backbone of British society.

Mrs Woolf and the Servants was runner-up for the Longman History Today award and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in Non-Fiction
Mrs Woolf and the Servants, (Penguin/Fig Tree, 2007 / Bloomsbury USA 2009)


"An invaluable glimpse into the hidden history of domestic service in an absorbing narrative, beautifully written with the sensibility of a poet."

mrs-woolf-and-the-servants2Mrs Woolf and the Servants book cover

"This is a bold, impressive and important re-writing of a slice of British social history."
Hermione Lee, Guardian

"This fine book - superbly researched, often passionately eloquent, and enthralling throughout  - Mrs Woolf and the Servants is no dryly academic sociological study. It is an inquiry into the fundamental nature of human intimacy."
Michael Dirda, Washington Post

"A compelling portrait of how rich and poor women of this time were locked into a strange and pernicious symbiosis, and a vital warning against social inequality."

Have I ever felt such wild misery as when talking to servants?  Partly caused by rage at our general ineptitude - we the governors - having laden ourselves with such a burden, at having let grow on our shoulders such a cancer, such a growth, such a disease as the poor are.
Virginia Woolf

"An absorbing investigation, serious, radical and feminist in its politics, entertaining in its delivery."

"A scintillating meeting of biography, social history and literary criticism."

"Do we really need another book on Bloomsbury?  The answer is resoundingly, yes. Especially  Mrs Woolf and the Servants.  Light doesn’t take away from Bloomsbury’s legacy. Light adds the dignity and intelligence of the people who made all those conversations, all those books possible."
Los Angeles Times

"Light has done an excellent job...her book not only give a voice to previously silent subjects but also adds to our understanding of both Woolf and Bell, of whom it’s sometimes easy to feel one has heard quite enough already."

"This is a book with a most revelatory is original, and that is a lot."
Boston Globe

Downton Abbey and history on TV

Listen to Alison discuss Downton and history programming with A.N.Wilson and John Humphrys on the BBC R4 Today programme (September 2011):


Virginia Woolf and Poor Women

Alison Light, Woolf Online, 2013
Read Alison's essay Virginia Woolf and Poor women

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