June 30, 2015

A Sneek Peek at Don'ts for Wives (1913)

Don'ts for Wives
Blanche Ebbutt

Original publication date: 1913
Facsimile edition: 2007

A&C Black, Ltd., Hardcover, 80p.
ISBN: 9780713687903

I stumbled across this interesting little book when I took my mum to the local bookshop last week.   The vintage cover caught my eye, and I bought it after flicking through a few pages.  

Don'ts for Wives is a very amusing and often relevant book of advice, that has been reprinted from the original 1913 hardcover.  Yes, I finally have my first facsimile edition (with original cover design) and I didn't even realise it. 

Like the amazing cover, the spine is deceptively simple.  I find this to be a very attractive little book despite a limited palette and minimal design.

The typography is small, and at times it can be tricky keeping your place - especially when reading in the car! - but thankfully the pages are small as I'd hate to be reading this small sized text on a normal page.

One curious detail left out of this book is a table of contents.  There are chapters in this book, yet after a preface by the author, Blanche Ebbutt, it just dives straight into the first chapter.  Very strange to find a non-fiction book with chapters without a contents table.  But in case you are wondering, I'll give you the list now ...

I. Personalities
II.  How to avoid discord
III.  Habits
IV.  Financial Matters
V.  Evenings at home
VI.  Jealousy
VII.  Recreation
VIII.  Food
IX.  Dress
X.  Entertaining
XI.  Household management
XII.  Children

While the advice is now 102 years old, it is still surprisingly relevant in 2015.  

"Don't give up all your men friends when you marry, and don't expect your husband to cease 
to take an interest in his women friends.  Ask both to your home, and welcome them equally."
Jealousy, p.39

This type of simple, common sense advice is littered throughout this book.  And while most of the advice is related to household management, or of a more personal nature, there are a few funny tidbits sprinkled in too:

"Don't let your husband wear a violet tie with grass-green socks.  If he is
unhappily devoid of the colour sense, he must be forcibly restrained.... "
Dress, p.55

A quick and amusing way to pass the time, Don'ts for Wives would make a great Christmas stocking stuffer - especially if gifted to someone with an interest in social history, - or perhaps as amusing wedding, or anniversary present.

After a quick visit to Book Depository I have discovered there is a second book by this author, including Don'ts for Husbands (1913), and I also came across another interesting title Marriage & Love (1894) by Ruth Smythers.  I foresee more books going into my cart soon ;-D

I'd love to know if you've read this, and what you thought of it.  Let me know in the comment section what your favourite bit of advice was ;-D

Until next time,


  1. Oh I just love old school etiquette books, especially when their advice is still relevant to today! I just may have to hunt this one down!

  2. Oh I just love old school etiquette books, especially when their advice is still relevant to today! I just may have to hunt this one down!