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About the book
  • Published: 30 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448116096
  • Imprint: Ebury Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

One Pair of Hands

From Upstairs to Downstairs, in this charming 1930s memoir




The thoroughly entertaining true story of life as a cook and general servant in the 1930s

'Life was a wordless battle of wits between us, with her keeping a sharp look-out for signs of neglect, and me trying to disguise my slovenliness by subterfuge. I became an adept at sweeping dust under the bed, and always used the same few pieces of silver'

Unimpressed by the world of debutante balls, Monica Dickens shocked her family by getting a job. With no experience whatsoever, she gained employment as a cook-general.

Monica's cooking and cleaning skills left much to be desired, and her first few positions were short lived, but soon she started to hold her own. Monica discovered the pleasure of daily banter with the milkman and grocer's boy and the joy of doing an honest day's work, all the while keeping a wry eye on the childish pique of her employers.

One Pair of Hands is a fascinating and thoroughly entertaining insight into worlds both upstairs and down in the early 1930s.

  • Pub date: 30 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448116096
  • Imprint: Ebury Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

About the Author

Monica Dickens

Monica Dickens MBE was born in 1915, and was the great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens. Expelled from St Paul's Girls' School, she was then sent to a finishing school in France, before returning home to life as a debutante: 'The deb scene and the dances were absolute agony. I would look at the waiters and the maids at balls and know for certain that they were having a better time than I was. So I wanted to belong with them, down there where there was a bit of life.' And indeed, she then spent two years as a cook and general servant. She later wrote about her experiences in her first book, One Pair of Hands (1939), which made her a bestseller at the age of twenty-two and immediately established her reputation as a writer. In her career she wrote over fifty books, including the Follyfoot novels, and for twenty years wrote a much-loved column for Woman's Own. She was also involved with the NSPCC, the RSPCA and the Samaritans. She died in 1992, and is survived by two daughters.

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Praise for One Pair of Hands

“Riotously amusing”

The Times

“Glorious entertainment”

Daily Mail


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