Saturday, 25 October 2014

Take the Carlyles, for instance. One hour spent in 5 Cheyne Row will tell us more about them and their lives than we can learn from all the biographies ... It is impossible not to believe that half their quarrels might have been spared and their lives immeasurably sweetened if only number 5 Cheyne Row had possessed, as the house agents put it, bath, h. and c., gas fires in the bedrooms, all modern conveniences and indoor sanitation. But then, we reflect, as we cross the worn threshold, Carlyle with hot water laid on would not have been Carlyle; and Mrs Carlyle without bugs to kill would have been a different woman from the one we know.

From Great Men's Houses, Virginia Woolf

Worth dipping into this book of V Woolf's essays from 1931/2 for Good Housekeeping magazine if only for her look askance at how the Carlyles' lives were ruled by the struggle to achieve good housekeeping whilst carrying hot water up three flights of stairs from the well in their basement kitchen.
Other essays on the London docks, Oxford Street and the House of Commons left me feeling too uninvolved to take much interest.


Cosy Books said...

I read The Carlyles at Home after visiting the house; the image of their drunken maid in the kitchen is one that sticks with me. Wish I could find a book of Jane's letters instead of the handful of dry writings by her husband. She was a hoot!

mary said...

The letters are online, Darlene, if that helps?