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Hannah Cullwick (1833–1909)

Author of The Diaries of Hannah Cullwick, Victorian Maidservant

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Hannah Cullwick was born and raised in Shropshire, England. As a child, she attended a local school, but after her father suffered business losses, had to go to work to help support the family. Her mother had been a lady's maid, so Hannah became a domestic servant. She worked in the home of a local lawyer, and then in a nearby inn, before becoming a nursemaid for the large family of a clergyman at Ryton Rectory. She was 14 years old at the time. When she was 17, she became an under housemaid and worked at numerous large country houses. Her employer Lady Louisa Cotes took her to London, where she met Arthur Munby in 1854. They began a longterm relationship and were secretly married in 1873. Hannah worked in a variety of middle-class households during that time to be near him, and wrote him letters almost daily. After they married, she moved to his lodgings in central London, where she lived as his servant. In 1877, she returned to domestic service in Shropshire. After she retired from service, she lived with family and then rented a small cottage near her brother Jim. After Munby's death in 1910, his boxes filled with Hannah's diaries and their letters and photographs landed at Trinity College, Cambridge, but remained unopened until 1950. A small selection from the diaries was published in 1984 as The Diaries of Hannah Cullwick, Victorian Maidservant. A short independent film based on the diaries, On My Knees, was made in 2003.
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