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How To Run Your Home Without Help

by Kay Smallshaw
Persephone book no:

61 62 63

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A Well Full of Leaves
Regular price £14.00
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ISBN 9781903155523

'Some of the smartest lessons in how we live now are to be found not in government speeches or fashionable film releases, but in the small grey covered books published by Persephone Books,' wrote Andrew O'Hagan in the Daily Telegraph. 'The volumes are usually lost classics of female writing; they promote the notion that understanding the past is a reasonable way to go about identifying the present and I have been looking at their newest release as a way of getting a handle on the idea of British domestic bliss.'

The book he was looking at was How To Run Your Home Without Help (1949) which, as its title implies, is a book about housework, republished because it is useful, it is a fascinating historical document, and, seventy-five years on, it is a funny and at times extraordinary bulletin from a vanished world. This book tells the newly servantless housewife what to do and is perfect for the newly-wed in need of some light-hearted guidance or the son or daughter who has just left home.

Andrew O'Hagan concluded: 'It would appear that the cultural heroes in this area of women's writing are not the Edwardian ladies who chained themselves to the railings in Parliament Square. Neither are they those determined women who once burnt their bras. On the contrary, they are those, such as Kay Smallshaw, who left their bras to soak in warm soapy water for an hour or so before flat-drying them, then folding them away in a well-dusted drawer, preferably on top of a perfumed drawer liner.'


The endpaper we chose was 'Riverside', a 1946 printed dress fabric in rayon crepe by the Calico Printers' Association

Read What Readers Say


In ‘How To Run Your Home Without Help' Kay Smallshaw covers just about everything anyone could possibly want to know about keeping house. I loved this book, largely I suspect, because it was a real trip down Memory Lane, reminding me of my own childhood in the 1950s. To anyone younger than me it would probably seem very old-fashioned, but there is a surprising amount of sound advice that could still be followed and adapted to suit modern lifestyles.

Categories: House and Garden

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