Auteur: Margaret Horsfield
The joys of housework
In this witty, erudite and refreshing examination of our universal obsession with cleaning and cleanliness, Margaret Horsfield confronts her own dirt demons and scours the social, historical, literary and psychological nooks and crannies of the world of household chores.
Basing her work on masses of historical research, on many interviews in which people come clean about housework and on an analysis of characters from novels and advertising, she presents such memorable personalities as: the woman who sends her small daughter to pad around other people's houses in white tights to check for dirt; the mother who, upon her son's suicide, shed not a tear but stayed up all night frantically polishing her already gleaming hardwood floors; and Hannah Cullwick, Victorian housemaid extraordinaire, whose diaries record with remarkable relish the low and dirty' chores of her daily life.
From scrubbers and sluts to germ-killers and dust-busters, from charlady detectives to mad, mad housewives, from jolly advertising jingles to the stately advice of Mrs Becton, this book runs through a gamut of people and ideas. And as we pause repeatedly to recognise our mothers, our friends, ourselves, we come to ask what we really do around the house and why. Biting the Dust sweeps away the cobwebs and throws light on a subject that is rich, strange and highly entertaining.