Lady's companion

companionpaid companioncompanion for Pepys's wife
A lady's companion was a woman of genteel birth who lived with a woman of rank or wealth as retainer.wikipedia
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Lady-in-waiting

lady in waitingladies-in-waitingladies in waiting
The role was related to the position of lady-in-waiting, which by the 19th century was only applied to the female retainers of female members of the royal family.
Although she may either have been a retainer or may not have received compensation for the service she rendered, a lady-in-waiting was considered more of a secretary, courtier or companion to her mistress than a servant.

Lady's maid

maidfemme de chambrein attendance on the daughter
A companion is not to be confused with lady's maid, a female personal attendant roughly equivalent to a "gentleman's gentleman" or valet.
Traditionally, the lady's maid was not as high-ranking as a lady's companion, who was a retainer rather than a servant, but the rewards included room and board, travel and somewhat improved social status.

Governess

governessesgouvernanteat home
Like a governess, a lady's companion was not regarded as a servant, but neither was she really treated as an equal.
Once a governess's charges grew up, she had to seek a new position, or, exceptionally, might be retained by the grown-up daughter as a paid companion.

Heidi

1880 novel1880 novel of the same namechildren's story of the same name
Three years later, Dete returns to take Heidi to Frankfurt to be a hired lady's companion to a wealthy girl named Clara Sesemann, who is unable to walk and regarded as an invalid.

Society for Promoting the Employment of Women

London Society for Promoting the Employment of WomenSociety for Promoting the Employment of Women (SPEW)Society for the Employment of Women
(Employment as a governess, running a private girls' school and writing were virtually the only other such options; hence the formation of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women in 1859.)
When SPEW was founded, there were few acceptable occupations for middle class women other than a governess or a lady's companion.

Gentry

genteelgentlemanlanded gentry
A lady's companion was a woman of genteel birth who lived with a woman of rank or wealth as retainer.

Affinity (medieval)

retainerretainersaffinity
A lady's companion was a woman of genteel birth who lived with a woman of rank or wealth as retainer.

Archaism

archaicarchaicallyArchaic style
The term was in use in the United Kingdom from at least the 18th century to the mid-20th century but it is now archaic.

Retinue

retainersretainerretinues
The role was related to the position of lady-in-waiting, which by the 19th century was only applied to the female retainers of female members of the royal family.

Royal court

courtimperial courtcourts
Ladies-in-waiting were usually women from the most privileged backgrounds who took the position for the prestige of associating with royalty, or for the enhanced marriage prospects available to those who spent time at court, but lady's companions usually took up their occupation because they needed to earn a living and have somewhere to live.

Valet

gentleman's gentlemanvaletsmanservant
A companion is not to be confused with lady's maid, a female personal attendant roughly equivalent to a "gentleman's gentleman" or valet.

Domestic worker

servantdomestic servantdomestic service
Like a governess, a lady's companion was not regarded as a servant, but neither was she really treated as an equal.

Social class

classsocial classesclasses
Only women from a class background similar to or only a little below that of their employer would be considered for the position.

Chaperone (social)

chaperoneduennachaperoned
In the latter case the companion would also act as a chaperone; at the time, it would not have been socially acceptable for a young lady to receive male visitors without either a male relation or an older lady present (a female servant would not have sufficed).

Agatha Christie

Rosalind HicksDame Agatha ChristieRosalind
There are numerous lady's companions in the mysteries of Agatha Christie, e.g. After the Funeral.

After the Funeral

There are numerous lady's companions in the mysteries of Agatha Christie, e.g. After the Funeral.

World War II

Second World WarwarWWII
In her novels dating before the Second World War, the companion is presented as a conventional feature of the life of the moneyed classes.

Great Depression

DepressionThe Great DepressionDepression era
The companions after the Second World War are generally elderly women who grew up in Victorian times without the expectation of having to provide for themselves, but who find themselves impoverished due to the decline of the fortunes of many once well-to-do families as a result of the Great Depression and the investment losses incurred during the War.

Emma (novel)

Emmanovel of the same name1815 novel of the same name

Little Women

Jo Marchnovel of the same name1868 novel of the same name