Most homes in the past were not elite, wealthy interiors complete with high fashion furnishings, designed by well-known architects and designers, as many domestic histories often seem to have assumed. As this book makes clear, there were in fact an enormous variety of house interiors in England during the period 1750-1850, reflecting the location, status and gender of particular householders, as well as their changing attitudes, tastes and aspirations. By focusing on non-metropolitan homes, which represented the majority of households in England, this study highlights the need for historians to look beyond prevailing attitudes that often reduce interiors to generic descriptions based on high fashions of the decorative arts. Instead it shows how numerous social and cultural influences affected the manner in which homes were furnished and decorated. Issues such as the availability of goods, gender, regional taste, income, the second-hand market, changing notions of privacy and household hierarchies and print culture, could all have a significant impact on domestic furnishing. The study ends with a discussion of how domestic interiors of historic properties have been presented and displayed in modern times, highlighting how competing notions of the past can cloud as well as illuminate the issue. Combining cultural history and qualitative analysis of evidence, this book presents a new way of looking at 'ordinary' and 'provincial' homes that enriches our understanding of English domestic life of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Margaret Ponsonby is from the School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences at the University of Wolverhampton, UK.
’The strength of this volume lies in Ponsonby's archival research... Ponsonby has written a book from which historians of the domestic interior will greatly profit. Stories from Home signals a worthy new direction in the history of design.’ Journal of British Studies ’... its highly organized structure, meticulous endnotes and substantial bibliography make it a useful model for students to examine... An imaginative and interesting interpretation of fragmentary evidence that will prompt discussion, this study fulfils its primary aims [...] and presenting us with a picture of the lived experiences of the inhabitant.’ Journal of Design History ’Readers interested in material culture and Victorian domesticity will find much to enjoy and profit from in this study of provincial homes and their contents... Ponsonby's work is a model of thoughtful, responsible research.’ Victorian Studies ’This book’s attention to the ordinary practices of everyday life brilliantly fractures the still pervasive monolithic myth of Victorian domesticity.’ Cultural Geographies