Warming Her Pearls

Warming Her Pearls Study Guide

"Warming Her Pearls" appears in Carol Ann Duffy's book Selling Manhattan, a collection that includes dramatic monologues, love poems, and poems concerned with the effect of money on society. This poem, told by an adoring servant about her mistress, describes a potential romantic relationship between people of different classes in a time when social stratification precluded such a relationship. The poem also focuses on the impossibility of a fulfilled lesbian relationship during the Victorian era, examining the way that relationship would have to exist. This poem is an example of Duffy's dramatic monologues, as Duffy ventriloquizes and reimagines the thoughts of a woman from a much earlier time.

The poem is dedicated to Judith Radstone, the woman who told Duffy about the Victorian practice of women having their servants wear pearls under their clothes in order to improve their luster. Radstone worked in publishing, rubbed shoulders with many important literary figures including Duffy, and had active political interests.