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mtrenteseau
02-26-2010, 09:50 AM
In my first book, the MC has a butler but he's just left for a one-month visit to his family in Europe. I plan to introduce him as an actual character in the second book (and make him a major part of the plot in #3).

The MC is thirty-two and lives alone except for his butler, who address him as "Mr. [Lastname]."

His mother's housekeeper, who has worked for the family for years, refers to everyone in the family as "Miss [Firstname]" or "Mr. [Firstname]," because almost everyone in the immediate family has the same last name.

The MC has a fiancee named Julie Ford. What would the butler and the housekeeper call her?

My guess is that the housekeeper, who calls the MC "Mr. Alex," would call her "Miss Julie." And the Butler, who calls the MC "Mr. Legrand," would call her "Miss Ford."

Anything to confirm or refute this would be helpful.

Stijn Hommes
02-26-2010, 01:00 PM
How long has the butler worked for the MC and his family? If he has worked with them closely for a long time, the MC might agree to let formalities slip every once in a while so the butler can use the same address as the housekeeper.

Other than that I see no obvious problems. I think it is pretty standard in butler etiquette.

RobinGBrown
02-26-2010, 01:04 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeeves_and_Wooster

http://www.angelfire.com/tv/quotesandsuch/jeevesandwoosterquotes.html

Wooster: "If you ask me Jeeves, art is responsible for most of the trouble in the world."
Jeeves: "It's an interesting theory, Sir. Would you care to expatiate upon it?"
Wooster: "As a matter of fact, no Jeeves. No The thought just occures to me, you know, as thoughts do."

Emphasis mine.

DrZoidberg
02-26-2010, 05:58 PM
How long has the butler worked for the MC and his family? If he has worked with them closely for a long time, the MC might agree to let formalities slip every once in a while so the butler can use the same address as the housekeeper.

Other than that I see no obvious problems. I think it is pretty standard in butler etiquette.

Just a thought. I'm not an expert. But you can use this very effectively to tell the reader how close various family members are to him. Also, if an outsider comes in, the rigid formalities are then firmly back in place, until the outsider leaves. Could be a fun twist.

ChristineR
02-26-2010, 09:11 PM
Jeeves is a valet not a butler. I know, nitpicking, but Jeeves fans make a big deal of that.

Sir or Madam would probably be the norm. He might address people who aren't part of the household as Ms. Ford or Mr. Legrand. Miss Julie would only be for someone under eighteen.

In Victorian times, "Mrs. Smith" was the mother, "Miss Smith" was the oldest daughter "The Misses Smith" were all the daughters, and "Miss Julie" was the younger daughter.

mtrenteseau
02-26-2010, 10:47 PM
How long has the butler worked for the MC and his family? If he has worked with them closely for a long time, the MC might agree to let formalities slip every once in a while so the butler can use the same address as the housekeeper.

Other than that I see no obvious problems. I think it is pretty standard in butler etiquette.

Alex's cousin died and left him the house four years ago. The butler came with the house, and has been there twelve years. So he knows the other members of the family but he's never worked for them.

Part of what's causing me trouble is that my experience with servants is all in the South, where the naming conventions of Gone With The Wind still hold. Miss Scarlett will always be Miss Scarlett to Mammy and Prissy, even after she's been married three times. Mammy is older than Captain Butler, and she cals him Mister Rhett. Prissy is younger, and calls him Captain Butler.

This story is set in New York, and the butler is European, so I'm starting from scratch.

Shakesbear
02-26-2010, 10:55 PM
European is a very wide term covering many countries - probably all with their own social nuances and etiquette. I think the age of the butler and his background are of importance as well as his character. Is he a very formal, old fashioned stick in the mud or does he have an informal working relationship with his employer? I think anything works if it fits the character you build.

mtrenteseau
02-26-2010, 11:39 PM
He's probably early forties - may have had one other employer before coming to America from Belgium.

His name is Bertrand, and regardless of what he calls Miss Ford, she's taken to calling him "Bertie," which annoys him. It not only sounds British, but it reminds him of Jeeves and Wooster.

mtrenteseau
02-26-2010, 11:46 PM
Jeeves is a valet not a butler. I know, nitpicking, but Jeeves fans make a big deal of that.

Sir or Madam would probably be the norm. He might address people who aren't part of the household as Ms. Ford or Mr. Legrand. Miss Julie would only be for someone under eighteen.

In Victorian times, "Mrs. Smith" was the mother, "Miss Smith" was the oldest daughter "The Misses Smith" were all the daughters, and "Miss Julie" was the younger daughter.

And you'd have to leave three cards when you came to call. :)

Thank you - As I said in another comment, I've gotten used to the Southern form, where an octagenarian from a prominent family would still be "Miss Louise" to distinguish her from the wives of her three sons.

IceCreamEmpress
03-01-2010, 02:20 AM
He's probably early forties - may have had one other employer before coming to America from Belgium.

His name is Bertrand, and regardless of what he calls Miss Ford, she's taken to calling him "Bertie," which annoys him. It not only sounds British, but it reminds him of Jeeves and Wooster.

She's calling a butler by his first name? Is she ignorant of the conventions of etiquette, or flouting them?

Also, is this the present day, or when?

In present-day New York, when people have butlers (which almost nobody does anymore because it's weird, and I am including Rockefellers and Vanderbilts in this) they call them by their surnames--"Johnson" or "Davis" or whatever, and the butler calls the family members and their guests "Mr. Jones" and "Ms. Smith" and so on.

The only reason a butler/housekeeper/house manager/etc. would call someone "Mr. Tom" or "Miss Julie" in present-day New York would be if they had known them as a little child. And even then, it would be an unusual usage and unlikely unless they themselves were from either the US South or from the Caribbean.

shaldna
03-15-2010, 03:27 AM
In my first book, the MC has a butler but he's just left for a one-month visit to his family in Europe. I plan to introduce him as an actual character in the second book (and make him a major part of the plot in #3).

The MC is thirty-two and lives alone except for his butler, who address him as "Mr. [Lastname]."

Or 'Sir' is appropriate. Bear in mind too that Bulters are calle dby their surnames, and often are called 'Mr' too, especially by other staff.

So, the MC will call him Smith, as will male visitors, women will call him Mr Smith, as will any other servants in the house.




The MC has a fiancee named Julie Ford. What would the butler and the housekeeper call her?

if she is not family then she would be Miss Ford.


My guess is that the housekeeper, who calls the MC "Mr. Alex," would call her "Miss Julie." And the Butler, who calls the MC "Mr. Legrand," would call her "Miss Ford."

Anything to confirm or refute this would be helpful.

No. It's correct to call a family member by Miss Firstname, but not non family member, and never the married couple. So, Dave Saunders and his wife Liz will be Mr and Mrs Saunders, always. But Liz's unmarried sister will be Miss Emily, and the children will be Miss Ruby and Master Paul. External vitors will always be Mr/Mrs/Miss Last name