“One Pair of Hands”, the Mystery of the Missing Chapter

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April 16, 2022 by kittynh

We all have books that are life long favorites.

My favorite book to lend or purchase for anyone in “One Pair of Hands” by Monica Dickens. Yes she is a direct relation of Charles Dickens. Also among all of her life achievements, the United States owes her memory much respect for bringing the concept of the “Samaritans” from the United Kingdom.

Now back to “One Pair of Hands”. Monica Dickens was a well known author. While she wrote compelling fiction, my favorite books are about her jobs. “One Pair of Feet” is about her training and working as a nurse during WWII. “My Turn to Make Tea” is about working as a journalist.

Monica Dickens claims she wrote her first book, “One Pair of Hands” in two weeks while relaxing on the sofa. It still remains her most popular book. If you are a fan of any sort of British upper class/lower class series, this book takes the romance out of the life of the servant. It also takes the romance out of having servants. The book was published just before the declaration of war in 1939, which was probably the death knell for this part of society structure. It was teetering on the edge of disappearing, falling from the heights of serious debate about “Should servants be paid as they receive free food and housing?”.

My introduction to this book was when I checked it out of the public library in Windsor Connecticut. That was over 35 years ago. I enjoyed every bit of the book, including the last chapter. Chapter 16 has her giving a talk about “The Servant Problem” at a Home Show.

That last chapter helped to sum up how people felt about servants, since most of the book has been about Monica Dickens “impersonation” of a servant this chapter gives a glimpse into the employers complaints.

I’ve bought several used copies of “One Pair of Hands”. I have British friends that send me over copies from used book stores so I can gift the book to friends.

But the books have all been paperbacks and none of the books have Chapter 16.

I recently decided to solve the 35 year old mystery of the missing Chapter 16. I emailed the Windsor Library. Sadly, they no longer had a copy of the book. The wonderful librarian even checked the entire library system in the state, and no copies of the book.

I began to believe that the last chapter, and the introduction, had been cut from the paperback version. Perhaps only a hard cover version of the book would include chapter 16.

She wanted to try something different. So she did!

It took just moments online to find an old hardback edition of the book. I had only a hunch that the missing chapter would be in the older hardback version.

I am HAPPY to say that the 1939 copy of the hardback “One Pair of Hands” has the missing chapter!

Now what to do? I will of course copy out the chapter for anyone that I gift with the book. But, what if someone else reads the book and feels the ending a bit loose?

I’ve decided to take a chance and offer Chapter 16 here. So go out and find a used copy of “One Pair of Hands” (this will have to be online in the US, as the book was not as popular as in the UK). Then when you get to the end, you can really get to then end by reading Chapter 16.

Fingers crossed, this post can stay up and that everyone can find their own copy of any of Monica Dickens fabulous book about domestic service. There is also a wonderful long introduction that is also missing from the paperback version.

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