Saturday, 26 June 2010
These are some photographs of a woman named Hannah Cullwick, who was the servant, lover and eventually secret wife or Arthur Munby. Munby was a middle class, well educated, Victorian man who had a fascination and at some times an obsession with working women. He travelled around London and the North of England taking photographs and writing extensively in his journals about the women he encountered, their jobs, their lives, their clothes, everything about them. Unlike most middle class Victorians, Munby would interview these women and spend a lot of his time with them, so his journals provide a good source of research for this period. Hannah worked for Munby and in other households and they had a very complex, secret relationship, where Hannah almost played the role of a slave to Munby, who she referred to as "Massa", meaning Master. Hannah would lick Munby's boots, cover herself in soot and carry Munby around, as he was attracted to her strength and her work. Munby took many photographs of Hannah in all different costumes and poses. (above she is posing as a slave, a man and a general maid) When they eventually married in secret, Munby wanted to make Hannah into a Lady. She refused, which caused the couple to seperate and live independant lives until their deaths. For my project, Munby's in depth journals provide a great research point and will give me a huge insight into working women's lives and the attitudes of the middle classes towards them.