Behind Closed Doors, By Amanda Vickery

"Interiors do not easily offer up their secrets," admits Vickery in this scrupulously documented exploration of 18th-century domesticity. By probing over 60 archives she reveals telling details of life behind the restrained Georgian façades.

Wealth from thriving commerce prompted not only a host of capital offences but a profusion of locks.

The Georgians filled their Palladian mansions with "pockets of Chinese wallpaper, Indian chintz and Rococo silk that all refused the symmetries of Rome". Equally familiar is the management of domestic issues by the sexes.

"The husband who could not honour his wife as companion and hostess now looked like a gothic anachronism," writes Vickery, though such anachronisms continue today.

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