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Eric Horne served as a butler in some of the great English country mars from the 1860s until just after World War I, when many of the families whose heirs died in battle were forced to sell off their homes. Born in Southampton, Horne came from a humble family who valued education. Horne excelled in school and wished to go to sea, but lacking his parents' permission, he instead ended up as a footboy for a local household. Over the years, Horne moved up in the service of the aristocracy: his goal was to become butler to the king of England, a position he very nearly secured. He did end up in the service of several distinguished households for many decades, and upon his retirement in 1922, he decided to write his memoir. Horne is a unique voice; t only did he have intimate contact with his employers and the household staff, he also possessed literary talent, so that his account provides authentic detail as well as shrewd--and often witty--views of the aristocracy, the servants, and their activities. Horne is t sentimental though; he does t think that he used his life wisely, having never learned a true trade. He reveals the plight of the servant class, where once a butler lost his employment--particularly following the devastation of World War I--he was likely to end up in a poorhouse, because employers did t usually provide pensions and servants were rarely able to save eugh money to survive on their own. What the Butler Winked At is a fascinating and essential account of life in a country house during the height of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and is presented here for the first time in trade paperback.
Eric Horne served various members of the nobility and gentry for fifty-seven years before retiring after World War I with a small pension from a former employer.