The Victorian period witnessed an explosion of periodicals, books, and even training programs on the subject of “domestic economy,” a concept that encompassed nearly every activity a homemaker could undertake within or for the maintenance of the home, including caring for children, entertaining guests, planning meals, decorating, engaging with tradesmen and domestics, and managing the family finances. In keeping with the doctrine of the separation of spheres, this industry portrayed domestic economy as a woman’s essential work, complementing her husband’s labors as breadwinner. This article shows that while Dickens invoked such conventions in his fictions, his own home life represents a striking departure from the paradigm. Examining Dickens’s practices of managing several houses, this article argues that Dickens should be recognized as a “domestic economist” in the Victorian sense and, moreover, that his “economizing” drove his domestic life, extending even, in the case of Urania Cottage, to a house’s residents.


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pp. 62-82
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