Video: Bill Bryson and Stephen Colbert Discuss Lack of Privacy in Times Past

Posted on October 15, 2010

Stephen Colbert did a very entertaining interview with author Bill Bryson, whose new book is At Home: A Short History of Private Life. Bryson investigated how people lived at home in the past, and found some fascinating -- some might say horrifying -- facts. For one thing, bedrooms are a relatively modern invention, as is the notion of privacy.

Colbert asked Bryson: "What about bedrooms. Are those new?" "Originally, in the original hall houses in the middle ages, there were no bedrooms," Bryson replied. "So everybody lived and slept together." Appalled, Colbert asked: "How did you make more people in front of everybody else?" "You made more people in front of everybody else," replied Bryson. "Really?!" Colbert exclaimed. "Well, it wasn't as boring as I thought...there was your entertainment! You could perhaps make a side wager."

Bryson explained: "Our ideas of privacy are really very recent. Right up until about 1800, it was not at all uncommon for servants to sleep at the foot of the bed." Take a look:

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