The shop is in The High Street, Erdington (became part of Birmingham in 1912)

Owner:  Ellen Bentley (b.1878)

Her parents:  Thomas (b.1830 d.1902)   and Ann (b.1835 d.1897)

Her home:   Summerlee House

Her brother:  Edward Bentley  (b.1858)   His wife:  Violet  (b.1868)  two children

Twenty years older than Ellen and very Victorian in attitude.  He worries about Ellen being 'modern' but he can see she is excellent at judging her business.  His wife is very fond of Ellen but is happy she has chosen to spend most of her time in her apartment over the shop.  It is nice to completely run ones own house.  Ellen has two rooms in Summerlee as it is still formally her home and she visits most weekends.  Most of her belongings are still at the big house.  She also will entertain there if she needs to.

Maid-of-all-work:  Daisy Dallow (b.1893)

Ellen needed to employ a general maid (the maid-of-all-work) and Daisy, the young girl  from next door, suited Ellen very well.  She has known Daisy and her family all her life.  This arrangement had many benefits for them both.  Daisy could sleep at home, so Ellen did not have to provide accommodation for her.   Daisy works roughly 7 am to 7 pm which are good hours for a maid of all work who often worked 17 hours a day. Being a benevolent employer, Ellen is happy for Daisy to arrange her own day as long as the work gets done.  This meant Daisy could sometimes help her mother when she was needed.

Occasional help: Violet Dallow (b. 1898) one of the three 'flowers' - the Dallow sisters, Daisy, Violet and Rose (b.1900)

Daisy's mother:  Mrs Dallow

Mrs Dallow, makes a few shillings a week doing Ellen's bits of personal laundry, her  ironing.  She also cooks the three girls' main meal of the day, except on Thursday, which is half day closing;  Daisy cooks for them all and Mrs Dallow does the laundry. 

Daisy's brother:  John Dallow (b. 1878)
John is renting a small shop across the road from Ellen and she is helping him with a lot of advice and a little money to run it as a drapers and haberdashery.  It was a great idea to open this shop when Bentleys changed from a long-standing Haberdashery business into a ladies outfitters.  Ellen had considered keeping a haberdashery across the road as there was still such a demand for it.  After a lot of thought she realised her other ambitions would use all her time and energies and decided to buy the shop but let John rent it and run his own business from there.  He had a great start using the Bentleys' staff, expertise  stock and equipment and it is flourishing.  He used to work in the old shop.  They have worked out a deal where he owns and runs the business and they help each other by not encroaching on what each of them offers.  John sells fabrics and haberdashery and takes orders for curtains and soft furnishing.  He is also useful for supplying fabrics and trims in small quantities for anything Ellen might be working on, such as her future Titanic collection, for next Spring.  John and Ellen are just starting to 'step out'.

Ellen's (dead) fiancé:  Albert (b.1876 d.1899)   
I am not sure how he even got into this narrative other than I found a photo which set off the story.

Ellen's best friend:  Molly (b.1878)

Molly is also someone Ellen has grown up with.   They went to school together and Molly worked in Bentleys alongside Ellen when they left school.  She and Ellen pretty much run the shop between them.  They do occasionally borrow some help from John's shop.  They are beginning to realise they need to take on another person full time to allow them to be away at the same time - trips to Paris for example!

Customer in the shop:  Mrs Singer

The customer from hell.  She always turns up at the last minute.  Even if an appointment is made she will arrive when it suits her. She will turn the shop inside out but buy very little on whim.