Rose Macaulay : winners and losers

I opened Non-Combatants and Others (1916) to check a quotation, and soon found myself re-reading the whole book.

Here’s the heroine’s reflection on who has gained, and who lost, by the war:

Many classes have lost heavily by this war, such as publicans, milliners, writers, Belgians, domestic servants, university lecturers, publishers, artists, actors, and newspapers. But some have gained; among these are sheep-growers, house-agents, sugar merchants, munition-makers, colliers, coal-owners, and sign-painters. An unequal world.

I was puzzled by some items on these lists. Surely newspapers were avidly bought during the war? Maybe they’re included because of the paper shortage. Why were times bad for domestic servants? I’d thought that the employment of women in more traditional male jobs meant that those previously condemned to “service” could now pick and choose. Maybe she means that with fewer servants per household, the ones that stayed had to do more.

The boom for sheep-growers must be a reference to the amount of knitting that was going on, making comforts for the troops. But why were sugar-merchants doing well? Because people were serving hot sweet tea to casualties?

2 Comments

  1. Jessica
    Posted October 17, 2006 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Possibly sugar-makers were selling their product to jam merchants for the endless pots of jam sent to the front as rations?

  2. Posted October 17, 2006 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Good thinking.
    And later in the book, it’s made clear that domestic servants were having a hard time because of the amount of competition from Belgian refugees.


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