Literary Links

November/December 2003


Good News and Announcements

New Authors added to our growing family--We recently designed pages for Victoria Bylin, historical romance author.  Learn about Vicki and her works at Also new to our family is Inspirational and non-fiction author Allie Pleiter, who published historicals under the name Allie Shaw. Check out more of our authors on our author page.    

Victorian Research Guide--This 252-page guide, Researching the British Historical--The Victorian Era, is now available either in print format or CD-Rom.  For more information, click here

Favorite Book of the Year--Nominations are now being taken for RWA's Favorite Book of 2003.  If you are a member of RWA, nominate your favorite book on-line at the RWA National web site.


New On Literary Liaisons

There are many new additions to Literary Liaisons. After reading about them below, check them out on the web site.

Author Pages


Victoria Bylin

Allie Pleiter, (aka Allie Shaw)






Of Men and Angels by Victoria Bylin

Various titles by Allie Shaw




Becoming a Chief Home Officer by Allie Pleiter

Breathing Life into Characters by Rachel Ballon, PhD.

Crown and Country: A Personal Guide to Royal London by Edward Wessex

Encyclopedia of Christmas by Tanya Gulevich

The Houses of Hanover and Saxe-Coburg by John Clarke and Jasper Ridley

Literary Law Guide for Authors by Tonya Marie Evans and Susan Borden Evans

Featured Title

The Career Novelist by Donald Maass



The Video Library


David Copperfield

Nicholas Nickleby



RWA Chapters


Capital Region RWA (New York)

Heart and Scroll RWA (Bloomington, IL)

Heart of Iowa

Maumee Valley RWA

Midwest Romance Writers

New Hampshire RWA

Northern Lights Writers (Twin Cities, MN)

Northwest Indiana Romance Writers

Prairieland Romance Writers

Western Pennsylvania Romance Writers



Researching the Romance


Breathing Life into Characters by Rachel Ballon, PhD.

Crown and Country: A Personal Guide to Royal London by Edward Wessex

Encyclopedia of Christmas by Tanya Gulevich

The Houses of Hanover and Saxe-Coburg by John Clarke and Jasper Ridley

Literary Law Guide for Authors by Tonya Marie Evans and Susan Borden Evans



Writers' Resources Online


1876 Victorian England Revisited

Britain Express--The Victorian Period

Deb Lawson's Historical Research Page

The History of Opera Gloves

Mrs. Beeton's Every-Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book


Feature Article 

Servants--Their Hierarchy and Duties

By Michelle Jean Hoppe


Status was just as important in the servant hierarchy as it was in the aristocratic ranks. Servants were divided into 'Upper' and 'Under' ranks.  Upper ranks were entitled to respect and deference from the under staff.  Upper rank servants would take the head places at dinner, unless they ate separately in the Steward's or Housekeeper's rooms.  Visiting servants were seated according to the ranks of their master or mistress.  Thus, a countess's lady's maid would be seated above a baroness's lady's maid, but both would be seated above a viscountess's under servants.  Another class of servant was the 'senior' class. These servants were of neither 'Upper' or 'Under' rank.  They were accorded some of the same privileges as the upper servants, such as being waited upon by the under ranks and eating with the upper servants.  But they rarely had the full privileges of an upper servant, such as the master or mistress's castoff clothing.





Housekeeper--In households where domestics employed number over twenty-five, the housekeeper's sole duty is to engage, manage and dismiss the female servants, with the exception of lady's maid, nurse and cook, whom the mistress engages.  In smaller households, the housekeeper manages the stores, both ordering and dispersing them.  She tends to the house linen, both repairing it and replacing it as necessary.  She supervises the china-closet, the stillroom department, and superintends the arrangement of bedrooms for visitors and their servants.  Her daily routine includes: overlooks the stillroom, sees what china and linen is given out for breakfast, presides over the housekeeper's room breakfast, gives out the stores for the day, assist in washing china, makes rounds of the bedrooms and replaces supplies such as candles, writing paper and soap, makes sure the rooms are clean and in order, presides over the servant's hall dinner, arranges dessert for dinner, makes tea in the afternoon, and makes the coffee for dinner.  She also makes preserves and bottles fruit. She keeps the household accounts, and does most of the needlework.  In smaller households, the cook often assumes the duties of the housekeeper.  


Lady's Maid--A lady's maid attends to her mistress's appearance.  She arranges her hair and assists in dressing her.  She packs and unpacks the mistress when traveling.  She may also make her mistress's dresses.  Depending on the size of the household, she may assume some of the housekeeper's duties.  In a typical day, she: brings up hot water as necessary, brings up tea before breakfast, prepares clothes for dressing, assists the mistress in dressing, puts the room in order, puts out necessities for walking, riding or driving, assists in taking off her outdoor attire, puts evening dress in order, assists in dressing her for dinner, sits up for her, assists in undressing her, puts away her jewels, keeps her wardrobe in repair and washes the lace and fine linens.  She also attends to any pets the mistress may have.



Governess--A governess taught the children of middle and upper class households until they were old enough to go away to school, college, or to a private tutor.  She was generally a well-educated middle-class girl who needed to earn her own living.  But although she was expected to have the bearing and education of a 'lady' she was treated as a servant.  This often left her in limbo--neither an insider or an outsider, as the other servants resented her as too educated and too good for their ranks.    


Nurse--The nurse is in charge of caring for the household's children from the time they are born, until they are turned over to the care of the governess.  She washes and dresses the children, feeds them, takes them on outings, and puts them to bed.  She makes the children's ordinary under-clothing, and repairs their general clothing. Most nurses have dinner brought to them in the nursery, but some dined with the other servants.



Cook--In large households, only the cooking proper is the duty of the cook.  All ingredients are prepared for her use by the kitchen maids.  (A man cook takes a higher position and even less of the plain cooking.)  A first-class cook attends to the family breakfast after having her own.  She makes out the menu for luncheon and dinner, which is sometimes reviewed and altered by the mistress.  In town, she orders from the tradespeople who serve the house.  She prepares the soup for the following day, prepares the pastry, jellies, creams and entrees for the day, all in the morning.  The afternoon is usually her free time, unless there is a dinner party or guests.  She then prepares dinner, and once dinner is served, her duties are over for the day. It is also her duty to lock the doors and windows of the basement, to let the kitchen fire burn low, and to turn off the gas in the kitchen and passages before retiring. In smaller households, the cook assumes the duties of the head kitchen-maid and even scullery maid.


Kitchen Maid--In large households, the head kitchen maid is an under-cook and assumes many of the plain-cooking responsibilities.  In small households, the kitchen maid prepares vegetables, game and poultry, does the dairy-work, and bakes the bread.  If there is no stillroom maid, she makes the cakes for luncheon, tea and dessert and the rolls for breakfast.  She keeps the kitchen clean and keeps things in order.  


Housemaid--In large households, the upper housemaid undertook lighter jobs such as making beds and tidying bedrooms.  She made sure rooms were supplied with the necessary linens, and that they were kept in repair.  She dusted the china ornaments, and tended to the flower arrangements.  She kept an eye on the lower housemaids, who would light the fires, clean the living rooms, polish the brass, carry water upstairs for washing, and empty the chamberpots.  Some maids were assigned to specific rooms, such as the still-room, laundry, dairy or nursery.  


Scullery Maid--Her chief duty is to clean and scour the pots and pans, as well as the cooking utensils.  She cleans the scullery, servant's hall, larders, and kitchen passages. She usually dines in the kitchen with the kitchen maid.





House Steward--A House Steward is employed only in larger households where the accounts are too extensive for the Housekeeper to manage.  The House Steward has a sitting-room for his duties of household accounting.  He may also act as a Land Steward.  Those households having Land Stewards give them their own separate dwelling.  The House Steward engages men and women servants, with the exception of the family, ladies' maids, nurses and valet.  He pays their wages and dismisses them.  He orders household goods, pays the household bills and keeps the household books.  He usually submits the household books to his master once a month for review.  He does not wear livery.


Valet--Valets are generally kept by single gentlemen and elderly gentlemen.  A butler may act as a valet for a single man.  A valet brushes his master's clothes, cleans his boots, carries up the water for his bath, puts out his clothes for dressing, shaves him if necessary, assists him in dressing, packs and unpacks his clothes when traveling.  He also loads his rifle when shooting, stands behind his master's chair at dinner, waits at his breakfast and luncheon, attends to the master's wardrobe and sees that everything is in repair and order.  A valet to an elderly gentleman attends to his health needs also, and may sleep in the room with his master.  He does not wear livery.


Butler--The butler is the head of his department and responsible for the performance of those under him (the footmen).  He has usually served his apprenticeship in domestic service, slowly working his way up the hierarchy.  His responsibilities increase with the size of his establishment.  He is in charge of the plate chest and makes sure it is properly cleaned before use.  He keeps accounts of the wine handed out and consumed by the household.  He decants the wine for luncheon and dinner, and puts away decanters after each meal.  He also bottles wine, and country butlers brew beer.  A butler takes over the valet's duty when there isn't one in the household.  A butler announces visitors during the afternoon hours.  He readies rooms for use every day, as well as tidies them.  In households with only one footman, the butler assumes some of the pantry work.  



Coachman--His duties vary depending on the number of footmen employed, and whether or not there is a second-coachman on staff.  In families with more than one coachman, the head coachman drives a pair of horses and the second coachman drives one horse.  Nightwork is the duty of the second coachman.  The head coachman supervises those under him (second coachman and grooms), and sees that the horses are properly fed and taken care of.  He also has charge of the the stables and is responsible for ordering supplies.  He assists the groom in cleaning the carriages and harness.    In some families, coachmen have their meals with the servants.  In others, they have their own rooms in the stables.


Head Gardener--The head gardener is in charge of the hot-houses, green-houses and conservatories on the estate.  He supervises the rest of the gardeners, their number depending on the size of the gardens.  



Footman--A typical day for a footman is the following routine: He takes coals to the sitting-room, cleans the boots, trims the lamp wicks, cleans the plate, lays the breakfast table, carries in breakfast, waits at breakfast, removes breakfast, answers the door in the morning after 12 o'clock, delivers notes, lays the luncheon table, takes in and waits luncheon, clears the table and cleans the silver, lays the dinner table, goes out with the carriage in the afternoon, attends to fires throughout the day and evening, prepares table for tea, cleans up after tea, waits at dinner, clears the dinner table, helps clean the plate, washes the glass and silver used at dinner, takes in coffee and dessert after dinner, waits in attendance in front hall when dinner guests are leaving, attends to the gentlemen in the smoking room, attends to lighting in the house at dusk, goes out with the carriage in the evening and valets the young gentlemen in the family.  Footmen dress in livery.  When one footman is employed, the butler assists in his duties.  When two footmen are kept in lieu of a butler and footman, the head footman assumes the duties of the butler.  When two or three footmen are kept with a butler, the head footman is called an under-butler, although he remains in livery.   


Groom--He attends to the horses and exercises them.  He cleans the carriages and harness, and feeds the horses.  He also readies the stables for the master's inspection each morning.  


Depending on the number of servants kept in an establishment, these duties often blend with one another.  


The Duties of Servants Reprinted from 1894 publication by Copper Beech Publishing, Ltd. 

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool, Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Household Management by Margaret Willes, The National Trust, Ltd., 1996.


For more sources like these, visit our Research Page.


Editor's Note

I should know by now that once the school year starts, the time flies by, and before we know it, the holidays are upon us.  Since our last newsletter, my baby turned 16, I attended my first 'Parent's Day' at my older daughter's college, my mom sold her house in Wisconsin and we started the moving process, the Cubs made the play-offs, and I became engaged to a wonderful man named Steve which will add two more children to the fold.  My life is growing by leaps and bounds, just as Literary Liaisons is.  We've added another historical writer to our fold, Victoria Bylin, who writes for Harlequin Historicals. And we've taken over maintenance of multi-talented author Allie Pleiter's web site.  Allie wrote historicals under the name Allie Shaw, but has since published a non-fiction book for full-time moms, and has contracted for two 'Mommy Lit' novels. It's hard to keep up with all these talented folks!  Best of luck to everyone in our family, and best wishes to you over this holiday season.  We'll see you in 2004!

--Michelle Hoppe

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.

Q&A Column

Q:  What was the hierarchy of servants in a Victorian household, and what duties and privileges did each position have?


A:   A simple question with a complicated answer.  Since I wanted to go into detail, I've devoted this issue's article to that very question.  You can read the reply above under "Feature Article" or at the following URL:   

Michelle Hoppe
President, Literary Liaisons

Historical Calendar of Events


Jack London, American novelist

G.M. Trevelyan, English historian

Paula Modersohn-Becker, German painter

J.J.R. Macleod, Canadian physiologist



George Sand, French writer



The Royal Titles Bill passed by Parliament in April made Queen Victoria Empress of India. 

Benjanmin Disraeli made Earl of Beaconsfield.

After a campaign by M. P. Samuel Plimsoll, a retired London coal merchant, Parliament passed a Merchant Shipping Act designed to prevent overloading of ships and use of unseaworthy vessels.

“The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East” a pamphlet by former British prime minister William Gladstone appeared September 6, arousing Britons against the Turks as Russia prepared for war..

Colorado became the 38th state of the Union.

Henry Carter negotiated a treaty which places Hawaiian sugar on the free list for importation into the United States.

The Grange began to lobby for U.S. tax law revision including an end to tax exemption for railroad properties. They also demanded lower interest rates, better schools, cheap textbooks, and cheaper bread, coal, and clothing.

A race war began in South Carolina when black militiamen were massacred at Hamburg in July.

Chiricahua Apaches in Arizona Territory were moved with their leader Geronimo to a reservation, which began a 10-year reign of terror against white settlers in the Southwest.

June 25--The Battle of the Little Big Horn ended with the massacre of a 264-man U.S. Seventh Cavalry force under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, at the hands of Sioux chief Sitting Bull.

In the U.S. presidential election of Tilden vs. Hayes, twenty votes were disputed, delaying the election's outcome until 1877.

Serbia and Montenegro declared war on Turkey.



The Arts

"Au Moulin de la Galette" by Pierre Auguste Renoir

"The Spirit of '76" by Archibald Willard

"Breezing Up" by Winslow Homer

"Flood at Port Marly" by Alfred Sisley


Roderick Hudson by Henry James

Ein Kampf um Rom by Felix Dahn

The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Marthe by Joris Karl Huysmans


Ethical Studies by F.H. Bradley

Robert's Rules of Order by U.S. Army Engineer Corps officer Henry Martyn Robert


"The Afternoon of a Faun" by Stephane Mallarme


"Peer Gynt" by Henrik Ibsen at Oslo's Christiania Theater on February 24

"Truth Is Good, but Happiness Is Better" by Aleksandr Ostrovsky at Moscow's Maly Theater November 18


Symphony No. 1 Op. 68 by Brahms

"Marche Slav" by Petr Tchaikovsky


"Sylvia" by Leo Delibes


"Siegfried" by Richard Wagner in Bayreuth

"La Giaconda" by Amilcare Ponchielli at Milan's Teatro alla Scala on April 8

"The Kiss" by Smetana at Prague on November 7

"The Golden Slippers" by Petr Tchaikovsky at St. Petersburg's Maryinsky Theater

Popular Songs: 

"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" by Thomas Westendorf 

"Grandfather's Clock" by Henry Clay Work


Daily Life

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, opened.

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy was founded at New London, Connecticut.

The University of Texas was founded at Austin.

Texas A&M was founded near Bryan.

The first tennis tournament in the United States was played.

The U.S. National Baseball League was founded.

Chicago Nationals pitcher Albert Goodwill Spalding started a sporting goods business with his brother.

The first Canadian bid to gain the America’s Cup in ocean yacht racing ended in failure as the Countess Of Dufferin lost 2 to 0 to the U.S. defender Madeleine.

The London Rowing Club four lost to the Albany Beaverwycks at Philadelphia’s Centennial Regatta.

England’s 47-year-old Henley Regatta got its first U.S. entry when Columbia University’s four-oared shell competed with British shells.

The U.S. stallion Hambletonian died at age 27 after having sired hundreds of offspring that will make Hambletonian trotting horses the dominant force in U.S. harness racing for more than a century. 

Z.R. Brockway founded a reformatory for juvenile offenders in Elmira, New York.

Corriere della Serra, Italy's first daily newspaper begins publication in Milan.

The Danish Red Cross was founded in Copenhagen.

McCall’s magazine began publication in April under the name The Queen.

August 2--Wild Bill Hickok was murdered at Deadwood in Dakota Territory, shot from behind by Jack McCall.

Sept. 7--Northfield, Minnesota citizens foiled an attempt on a bank by Frank and Jesse James and the Younger brothers.

Homestake Mining Co. was founded at Lead in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory.

New York’s Central Park was completed after 17 years of work. The 840-acre park extended from 59th Street to 110th between 5th and 8th Avenues.

“God’s First Temples—How Shall We Preserve Our Forests” by John Muir was published in a San Francisco newspaper.

Palm Beach, Florida had its beginnings when coconuts from the wreck of the Spanish ship Providencia washed ashore, proliferating palm trees in the area.

B.V.D. underwear for men was introduced by Bradley, Voorhees, and Day of New York.

The World Exposition opened May 10 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia fairgoers saw bread and rolls raised with compressed yeast at a model Viennese bakery set up by Gaff, Fleischmann and Co., which invested all its resources in the display to spread word about Fleischmann’s Yeast.

Bananas fetched 10¢ each at the Philadelphia fair. The foil-wrapped novelty gave most fairgoers their first taste.

Budweiser beer of Anheuser Busch won top honors in a competition at the Philadelphia fair.

Hires Rootbeer Household Extract was promoted at the Philadelphia fair with an exhibit displaying packages of dried roots, barks, and herbs. Charles E. Hires has adopted the name “rootbeer” rather than “herb tea”.

Heinz’s Tomato Ketchup was introduced by Pittsburgh’s H. J. Heinz. 

Glasgow grocer Thomas Johnstone Lipton expanded with ships in Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, and Manchester.

English-American restaurateur Frederick Henry Harvey opened the first Fred Harvey restaurant in the Santa Fe Railroad depot at Topeka, Kansas.  

Famine will kill 9.6 million in Northern China and 5 million in India in the next 3 years after drought withered wheat fields.

“A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library” by Amherst College librarian Melvil Dewey, originated the Dewey decimal system.

May 10--Former Union Army officer Eli Lilly founded Eli Lilly Co. at Indianapolis to produce reliable medications for responsible physicians.

Lydia Estes Pinkham patented a label for “Mrs. Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound”.

Compagnie International des Wagons-Lits et des Grandes Express Européens was organized to bring sleeping cars to Europe.

September 11--The St. Louis and San Francisco (Frisco Line) was founded, taking over most of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad lines through Indian Territory.

The first carload of California fruit reached the Mississippi Valley, but the freight rate is too steep for most growers.

December 29--A train wreck kills 83 at Ashtabula, Ohio, as a 13-year-old bridge on Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Lake Shore & Michigan Southern gives way during a storm off Lake Erie.



Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

Western Union president William Orton turned down an offer to acquire the Bell telephone, calling it a toy.

Western Union retained Thomas A. Edison to improve on Bell’s telephone. 

Robert Koch discovered the anthrax bacillus.

The first Chinese railroad was completed.

Nickel ore was discovered in New Caledonia.

A bentwood café chair was introduced at Vienna by Gebruder Thonet.  It will become standard furniture in world restaurants and saloons for nearly a century.

Exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, were the Remington typewriter, which does not yet have a shift key, an envelope-making machine and the first stamped envelopes.

New York inventor John Colinergos Zachos patented a “typewriter and phonotypic notation” device, thus stenotypy begins to facilitate courtroom reporting and make records of legal proceedings more accurate.

Britons call rubber-soled canvas shoes “Plimsolls” after the Plimsoll line on ships, but the shoes are costly and problematical.

The Bissell Grand Rapids carpet sweeper patented by Grand Rapids, Michigan china shop proprietor M. R. Bissell, was the world’s first carpet sweeper. 

The Howe “floater” which made the tinsmith’s soldering iron obsolete, made canning enormously more efficient.

Delaware canner A. B. Richardson applied for a patent on a new can shape and a new method for canning boneless hams.

New York importer Julius Wolff established the first successful U.S. sardine cannery. 

Scots-American inventor John McTammany demonstrated a player piano at St. Louis. It produced music mechanically from perforated paper rolls.

Henry A. Sherwin of Cleveland pioneered prepared, ready-to-apply paint.

The stillson wrench was patented by Somerville, Massachusetts inventor Daniel C. Stillson.

George Selden of Rochester demonstrated his patented machine for shaving and finishing barrel hoops at the Exposition.  

Nikolaus A. Otto invented a four-cycle gasoline engine far more advanced than his 1866 engine.

September 6--San Francisco and Los Angeles were linked by rail, as the Southern Pacific reached Los Angeles to give that city a route to the East.

Canada’s Intercolonial Railroad opened to link Ontario with the Maritime Provinces.


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