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Hoisted from Comments: Del on George Orwell and England's Lower Upper Middle Class


George Orwell on Belonging to England's Lower Upper Middle Class in the 1920s: del said...

"The amazing part to me is how someone who couldn't afford to eat a decent restaurant but would have "at most two servants." Something about relative costs has changed a lot since Orwell's day."

Cheap servants were much, much cheaper to employ in those days, and one of the chief sources of the English middle class belief that they were becoming poorer as the twentieth century wore on, was that the growing prosperity of the working class, particularly after WWII when the Attlee government was elected, meant that cheap servants became harder and harder to find.

Nevil Shute can't stop going on about it in Slide Rule, and C S Lewis has a remark in The Magician's Nephew, written in the 50s but set between the wars, that "everyone had lots of servants in those days". (note that both Shute's and Lewis's definition of "everyone" necessarily defines the majority of the country who were themselves the cheap servants as "no one")

Orwell's complaint that his class felt poorer than actual poor people because proles don't know any better is the same nonsense we get today, sadly.

Was it Agatha Christie who said that when she was a child she never imagined that she would be rich enough to own an automobile or poor enough not to have live-in servants?