Then the chimney was invented, Bill Bryson tells us, and with all that area near the roof newly cleared of smoke, it became possible to have an upstairs:
"From that point, they started to discover the whole concept of privacy and having space of your own," he adds.Ah! A new Bill Bryson book is out today. It's "At Home: A Short History Of Private Life." I chose the audio version, because I adore Bryson's reading voice. It's charming and humorous, but also gentle enough to listen to while falling asleep. I buy all Bryson's books in audio form, and I listen to them hundreds of times. Since I fall asleep — in my boudoir! — while listening, I never really know when I've heard everything, but it doesn't matter. I'm never done listening.
It was at this point that the different rooms we take for granted — bedroom, study, closet — began to enter the common vernacular. However, Bryson notes that many of these rooms served very different functions hundreds of years ago than they do today.
Though a boudoir is now commonly connected with a sense of sexual intrigue, Bryson says that the French word actually translates into "a place to sulk."...
"Right from the very beginning," Bryson says, "[the boudoir] was a place for the mistress of the house to retreat to, and those private rooms upstairs were also where people now began to invite guests. So while we now think of a bedroom as a place that's dedicated to sleeping ... [in the Middle Ages, a boudoir] might be where you'd have a little dinner party."