Friday, March 7, 2014

Dunsany's Butler's Book

So I was amused to see that the book by the man whom I like to think of as 'Dunsany's Butler',* Stanley Ager, is back in print again and prominently displayed on the 'Downton Abbey' table in the local Barnes and Nobles, alongside Downton Abbey tie-in books such as scripts for Season One, scripts for Season Two, two books by the Countess of Carnarvon about two of her predecessors, et al.

by Stanley Ager and Fiona St. Aubyn [19080]
"Foreword by Alaistair Bruce OBE/ Historical Advisor to Downton Abbey"

This is one of the books I inherited from Taum, who as a professional bartender himself probably was able to put to use some of the tips therein. I've found it useful myself when running CALL OF CTHLUHU scenarios set in the 1890s, like my FORDYCE HALL campaign from a few years back. Originally the book interested me because I was trying to find out everything I could about Lord Dunsany back in the days when I was working on the dissertation, and Ager had worked for the Dunsanys early on in his career, as a footman; he even includes several amusing stories of surreptitious moonlighting from those days (apparently it was hard to put anything over on Lady Dunsany, who never gave away that she was on to them). 

And now Ager's book is resurrected again, in a new context, to take advantage of the current DOWNTON ABBEY craze. Good for him. I suspect this book will eventually gain permanent status as a record of a vanished world.

--John R.

*actually, he was a footman when he worked for the Dunsany's, mainly out of their London townhouse in Cadogan Square, but by that time I learned those details, years after originally getting a copy of the book, the label 'Dunsany's Butler' was indelibly associated with it in my mind

**the title has shifted a little; my copy [from 1981] is THE BUTLER'S GUIDE TO CLOTHES CARE, MANAGING THE TABLE, RUNNING THE HOME AND OTHER GRACES; the original title was apparently AGER'S WAY TO EASY ELEGANCE [1980]

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