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Books Giveaway Winner (and more book news)

Today was the deadline for the giveaway of two books.  I allocated each person who wished to be entered in the draw a number, then cut up all the numbers and put them in my husband’s panama hat. Husband then did the honours.

So, drum roll …

I apologise now for Husband’s rather scruffy attire … he said he’d put on his ‘working’ clothes this morning, i.e. a very old shirt and jeans, as he planned to do some jobs in the garage and also finish cleaning the silver, always a messy job 

I instructed him to pick out one number and he must not look, and so he is looking up at the ceiling.  He drew out number 22 which had been allocated to Margaret Simpson.  I have emailed Margaret, and asked if she will kindly email me her address and I will post the books to her as soon as possible.  Thank you all for participating in this giveaway, and I’m sorry if you are disappointed this time, but I do plan to have another giveaway in the future.

* * * * *

Excitement over, to the rest of today’s post …

It is a dull, chilly day here in South Devon and, once again, we were up late. This really will have to cease, having porridge while still in bed at gone 11 o’clock is becoming a habit, and not a good one!

Once up, I photographed two lovely books which a dear friend gave me yesterday.  We had a lovely chat over a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits and some shortbread, I heard all about her lovely Christmas and well, just general family news.  She had been having a sort out of her books and thought I might like two of them (she was right!)

I have put the tulips in the sitting room, even though the colours aren’t quite right …

The first book my friend gave me is a very pretty book by Susan Hill and it will be a fine addition to my Christmas books’ collection.  The other book will be an addition to my housekeeping books’ collection …

This book was published by The Daily Express newspaper.  It really is a step back in time, very much social history today as it shows how hosuewives were expected to care for their homes in the early part of the 20th century.  There isn’t a publication date and I’ve only been able to deduce an approximate date from the style of clothes worn by the women in the book and the style of the furnishings.  Thus I would hazzard a guess, the 1930s.

Why I say this, and not the 1940s (which it well might be) is that the rooms are slightly too luxurious (by 1930s’ standards, of course) rather than in post-World War II Britain, which would’ve perhaps shown much more austere Utility furniture and clothes – if indeed such books were published in that immediate aftermath of war – and also it might’ve said that the book had been published to ‘Economy Standards’, as many books were, paper then being in very short supply.

I haven’t had time to read the book yet, but as far as I have been able to see there is no mention of Anderson or Morrison shelters, making-do-and-mending, pulling back knitted pullovers to make something ‘new’, and so forth.  No, I think this book is definitely from the 1930s, and lovely it is too:

Here are just three of the pages from the book, showing a fitted kitchen, a very smart pared-down drawing room, and what is described as a dining room but which is used for more than simply eating … I chose this photo as it shows a typical family set-up:  father reading the newspaper (no doubt The Daily Express!), mother doing mending or knitting, and son doing his homework, dressed as a miniature version of his father, in collar, tie and jacket.  Each has his or her own lamp which must’ve been both luxurious and unusual in the days when most houses that had electricity had a single central light.  Similarly, having a fitted kitchen such as this one shown here would’ve been the height of luxury, even with a gas water heater on the end wall, and a small ‘boiler’ (bottom right) for the laundry.  I can remember when we had an Ascot gas water heater in our bathroom and in our small scullery-style kitchen in my parents’ shop in the 1950s, the premises being without a bathroom until my parents bought the establishment and had a bathroom installed.

As well as these two lovely books, I took delivery this morning of another book by novelist, Natasha Solomons, and I’m now looking forward to reading this, having enjoyed recently her novel, House of Gold.

I couldn’t resist photographing the book on two musical scores (and in case you’re wondering, one is Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah and the other is Handel’s oratorio, Messiah (both of which I have sung when a member of a choral society many years ago – ah, happy days!)

Again, congratulations to Margaret Simpson for being the winner of the Giveaway draw.  I am now going to check the chicken casserole simmering in the oven, part of which will be supper this evening (part I shall freeze) with some tiny roast potatoes and then I will make husband and myself a cup of tea on this rather dark, chilly January afternoon.

Until next time.

15th January 1919.

I am now going to include three extra photos of women in this book going about their household tasks.  Cathy and Donna are of the opinion that the book is post-war, say 1950s/1960s but having been a child/teenager in the 1950s and married by the time it was 1964, I am pretty certain that the book is from the 1930s or 1940s, and actually plump for the 1930s, and perhaps these photos will give us some clues, so here they are …

I know they are working and not dressed in their best clothes, but take a look at the hairstyles for starters. The middle photo looks to me like a Marcel waved hairstyle, a version of perming.  To me they just have a 1930s feel to them, as does the book itself.  But it’s great that we can have different opinions on this, and if it’s late 1940s or early 1950s, then I accept I’m wrong.  I shall locate a photo of my mother in the 1950s and include that below …

Here is my mother in the late 1920s/early 1930s where her dog, Floss.  I think there is a similarity of hairstyle and clothes.

But it’s fun to try and work out when a book was published, isn’t it, but looking for clues!

Until next time.

About Margaret

Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Congratulations to Margaret on her win 🙂

  2. Having parted with literally hundreds of books when we downsized a few years ago, I am afraid you are rather leading me astray Margaret! I have already ordered the Roy Strong book about remaking The Laskett and now I see you have a Susan Hill book which I have missed. She is one of my most favourite authors, so I shall be looking out for a copy of her Christmas book. I too have a small collection of Christmas books which I bring out each December and this will make a splendid addition.

    • Margaret

      Oh dear, that’s the last thing I want to do … lead people astray! But being led by books isn’t as harmful as other addictive pursuits, Margaret, thank goodness! I think a number of people will have been ordering the books by Roy Strong I’ve mentioned – I have a very good friend who has already ordered and received A Country Life, part of the giveaway, and she has told me she loves it.

  3. Pleased for Margaret.
    I am sure you would enjoy this. https://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/how-to-run-your-home-without-help.html
    A reminder of how much more time and effort housework took.

    • Margaret

      Hello, Jill, and – surely you might’ve guessed this, ha ha – I have this book already and wrote about it in one of my articles on collecting old housekeeping books. It’s great fun, isn’t it? I love this book and books like them. Running a home was, at one time, considered a full time job for a housewife and when you think of how they had to manage a home, often without a fridge or washing machine, let alone a dishwasher, is it any wonder? Yes, housework took a lot of time and effort, it was truly very hard work. But I’m glad you’ve sent me this link and perhaps other readers will look at it and see this book, which is really, as I say, great fun (in retrospect, of course; not fun for those in the 1950s trying to run their homes without help – for most people, unless really very poor, had some kind of help in the home, whether a woman to come in to do ‘the rough’ as it was called, the scrubbing of the steps and the floors, or someone to do the laundry, or even just someone to help with meals and a bit of housework.

  4. How nice for Margaret to win your give-away. I have been reading Christmas Magic by Cathy Kelly. It’s a collection of short stories but only a few about Christmas! However its a lovely read and I don’t lose my place with short stories.

    • Margaret

      It’s lovely you have found a book of short stories you are enjoying, Pieta, but it’s a genre I’ve never really enjoyed myself (although I acknowledge that there are some excellent short story writers.)

  5. I have to compliment Husband on his attire! His “scrubby” clothes are quite smart compared to my husband’s scrubby clothes. I would not have known Husband was wearing his scrubby clothes had you not mentioned it! Can you tell that I would like some of my husband’s clothes to go straight in the trash can?!

    • Margaret

      Husband had some worse clothes, Jeannine, those he has painted in, but they’ve now gone into the recycling bin (which takes old clothes regardless of condition – good old clothes go to the charity shops). I shall tell Himself that you think he looks quite smart!

  6. I think the kitchen in that photograph looks a bit modern with the double stainless steel sinks.

    • Margaret

      I think I shall have to research double stainless steel sinks, Donna, but stainless steel (or to be more accurate, rustless steel) was used reasonably early in the 20th century. Leave this with me and if I find out more, I will come back to this kitchen photo again, or do another post on kitchens.
      Later … it hasn’t taken me long to find out more, Donna. We had a Franke stainless steel sink in our previous house, installed with a new kitchen in the 1970s. I have found on the Franke website the following:
      “The Franke company began life in 1911, when Hermann Franke established a small sheet metal business in Rorschach, Switzerland. In 1934, they produced the first stainless steel sinks which quickly become so popular that by 1938, the company was mass-producing them.”
      So it is possible that the kitchen dates from thr 1930s, Donna, even though it looks so modern.
      Later still: Google Bauhaus kitchens, Donna. These were designed by the Bauhaus group of architects and designers, headed by Walter Gropius and you will see beautifully fitted kitchens even from the 1920s although, of course, they weren’t common to all, only perhaps to the wealthy and the avant garde.

      • Isn’t it fun to sleuth down these things??!!! I agree now that the book is from the ’30’s. I only meant to point out that the sink looked “modern” which was surprising given that I agreed the book was from the 30’s. Dress and hairstyle often gives it away even if home design doesn’t! Thank you Margaret! Still loving your blog!

        • Margaret

          Yes, I love to sleuth social history, it’s what I used to write about for magazines (among other topics, of course, including decor, antiques, etc) Yes, it’s dress and hairstyles that are giveaways, generally speaking, and even the font for books, or the paper used, or the colour and quality of the photos. So glad you like my blog still, Donna. I will be looking in at yours again soon! Your blog layout is lovely, really attractive, and you always have interesting topics.

  7. I’m of a similar option to Donna – personally I’d date those photos as very late 1950s – into the 1960s.

    Having given so many of my books away (and no I’m not going to start ‘collecting’ them again) I live vicariously through your blog Margaret. Your reviews are personal, giving other readers your thoughts on why you like or dislike a publication. Thank you for that

    • Margaret

      No, dear ladies, I am sure this book is either pre-war or just post-war. I should perhaps show some of the women photographed in the book because they are certainly not dressed for the 1950s or 1960s (I know, I was there, ha ha!) I think I will take a photo of one of the pages where a woman is using a rotary iron and she looks to have a 1930s dress on. I will then edit the post and include this photo. See what you think.
      When I review a book – well, I seldom actually review it, I just say whether I’ve enjoyed it or not – it is very personal, and others might enjoy a book I’ve not liked, or not like a book I have liked. I would hate to rubbish a writer, it takes a lot of skill to sit down and complete a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, and I admire anyone with that skill.

  8. Your other half looks fine Margaret, I don’t know, the things we ask them to do. 😊 Congrats to the recipient of the books too.

  9. Oh my!!! What wonderful old books! They definitely make me appreciate the time in which I live! Thanks for sharing these treasures. And huge congratulations to Margaret on her win! 🌷

    • Margaret

      I have emailed Margaret twice, but haven’t yet heard from her. I hope she is receiving my emails, they haven’t bounced back so I can only assume she hasn’t yet read them.
      I think I might write sometimes on my housekeeping books – I feel sure I wrote about them in the early days of my blog, Tess, but it might be worth revisiting this topic again. I’ve not added to them for a long time, well, until my friend gave me the Housewife’s book this week.

  10. Congratulations to Margaret on her win.
    Oh that picture of the mangle and tub took me back, as a child I had to help with housework due to my mother being ill for several years, the mangle and dolly tub was very hard work! ‘Possing’ the clothes in the tub with the posser was hard too. When I got married 50 years ago, we had an Ada washing machine which we bought second hand, that had a mangle attachment too, hoisting the wet clothes up and through the rollers was still a hard job. They then had to be rinsed in the sink before being put through the mangle again. Oh the joy when we bought a twin tub washing machine! That machine lasted for many years until the even more joyful purchase of an automatic washer, I can clearly remember being enthralled and watching the clothes going round through the glass, I could just put the clothes in and the machine would do it all. I’m still thankful to have such labour saving devices.

    • Margaret

      Oh, the talk of a posser reminded me of my childhood, too. My parents had a shop in Rochdale in those days (we moved to Devon in 1951 when I was a child) and at our home in a nearby village, where my grandfather and uncle also lived (they lived with us), we had a woman called Annie who used to come in and ‘do’ for us each day, and one day Uncle found her crying in the wash house out the back (a brick built building for the purpose of doing the laundry) and asked her “What’s to do, Annie?” the Lancastrian way of asking what was wrong. “I’ve not got a prosser!” she sobbed, “I need a posser to do the washing!” So Uncle made sure she had a posser. This was a a gadget to help press and rotate the washing in the dolly tub. And all this in my own lifetime! From posser to automatic washer/dryer!
      My neighbour had a machine such as you mention with a mangle attachment. My mother eventually had a twin tub, where you had to haul the soapy clothes into the rinser/spinner. We didn’t have a washing machine for four years after we married, and then we bought an Indesit automatic and I clearly remember husband and I taking our kitchen chairs and sitting in front of it, like watching TV, and watching the washing going around and spinning – oh the joy! No more soap suds in the sink, no more wringing the clothes making my wrists ache! It seems I’m not the only one, Jan, you loved seeing the clothes going around, seen through the porthole window! Yes, I’ve still thankful for such labour saving devices. Those who have grown up with them will never understand how tiring doing the washing was before automatics, whether by hand, as I did for four years (with the occasional trip to the launderette) or with an old fashioned top loading washer with mangle, or a twin tub.

  11. Lovely photo of your mother, Margaret. My Nanna had such a small kitchen. And we had to walk through it to get to various parts of the house, plus the ironing board would sometimes have to go up. It was hinge- attached to a wall. People today can’t even conceive of living with such a small working space.

    • Margaret

      My mother always had a tiny scullery in which to work. Kitchens, even in quite large houses, were something of an afterthought, were they not? It was only when her dormer house was built in 1985 that she had a lovely large modern kitchen, until then, just a scullery with a sink, draining board and old fashioned gas cooker and next to it a room with a breakfast table, the boiler which heated the house and some cupboards for food, and off that a little room in which was the fridge. No, people today would not conceive of living and working in such spaces, and yet she made wonderful meals.

  12. Based on the hairstyles I would also have guessed late 1920s-30s. The hairstyles reminded me of some of those worn by the characters in Downton Abbey. As for the photographs of the rooms – I bet any woman worth her apron would have swooned to have a kitchen like that shown !! My first home was bought through family and was the home of my deceased great Grandparents – bought in 1990, everything was in original condition from when built in 1955, save for the telephone connection and additional powerpoints. The kitchen was ancient and horrific to store food, prepare and cook meals, let alone serve when we had guests but I always knew that it had been my immigrant great grandparents’ pride and joy….. My late maternal grandmother had a thick tome called ‘Ladies Handbook’ from the early-mid 1950s which she told me she’d purchased from a door-to-door salesman (always men back then) as a mother of two young children. As a child I ADORED this book as it had scary (to me) photographs of children with scarlet fever and other diseases I’d never seen, along with remedies that are now considered barbaric ! It was a wealth of information on how to run a household – everything from laundry to home medications. As you say, fascinating social history…… And here was I thinking your husband looked very well dressed with his long sleeved shirt and belt. Given our subtropical climate my husband wears long sleeved shirts for only about a two month period of the year :). Congratulations to the prize winner….. Following on from others’ comments, I can remember ‘helping’ my maternal grandmother do the washing with a mangle when I was very young, perhaps four or five years old. She told me many years later she was always terrified my little hands would get injured but I was persistent with ‘helping her’ (three generations lived together). I can also remember my mother using a twin tub washing machine in the 1970s when I was about seven or eight years old and her delight when we had our own automatic washing machine some years later. Yes, thank goodness for microwave ovens, dishwashers, ceiling fans, air conditioners, cars without chokes, hot water taps in kitchens, indoor toilets (WCs), supermarkets, ……… 🙂 :). :).

    • Margaret

      I have only seen trails of the new Mary Poppins film and from what I’ve seen it looks lovely. Different from the original, of course, something like 50 years on, but still a lovely film.
      I shall have to tell husband that you thought he looked well dressed. The shirt was a nice one when new, and he’s not got any paint or anything like that on it, but he uses it now for gardening and such like, his better shirts fit more snugly, as modern shirts do (most of them are by a company called Gant). A lot of elderly chaps don’t think that shirts change in style/cut, but they do, and a chap can look really old-fashioned in a baggy shirt when younger chaps are in more close-fitting shirts. Of course, we don’t tend to follow fashion, it has nothing to do with style, but all the same, wearing shirts that are 20 years old can make an elderly chap look as if he doesn’t care what he looks like any more. Ditto wearing porridge-coloured clothes.
      I will be posting about the prize winner shortly. Oh yes, cars without chokes! I’d forgotten those! When we were first married, our Ford Mark 1 Consul (it had a bench seat in the front, not individual seats) even had a starting handle! It was a 1954 model, a real rust-bucket. How cars have improved, along with to many other things.

      • I can remember piling into the back seat of the family car – or the cars of family members – with my aunties, uncles, cousins (and there was always a dog). No seatbelts in the back of the older cars and if it was a more recent car with seatbelts then the older kids got them and us younger ones sat on the laps – all quite normal back in the 1970s Australia ! I can also remember my parents and their friends puffing away on their cigarettes whilst I sat in the car. I understand smoking in cars where a child is present is now illegal in some countries. I sometimes rib my mum that it’s a wonder I don’t have lung cancer from all those years of passive smoking. Fortunately she quit over 30 years ago – and is your typical reformed smoker ha ha.

        • Margaret

          Yes, this is exactly how it was here, too, Lara. And I think smoking in a car where there are children is illegal here now, but I’m not sure as it isn’t a rule that affects us, as we don’t smoke and our children are adults.

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