The 6th Duke of Devonshire was greatly interested in the history of his family and of Chatsworth and in 1844 published a book called Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick. The volume was written in manuscript form then privately printed with a limited distribution. It remained the only full-length account of Chatsworth House for many years.

The handbook is lively and unashamedly subjective. It is written in the first person and addressed to the Duke's sister Countess Harriet Granville, 'as if you asked me for it, thus enabling me to do the job ennuieless'.  In the first paragraph of the book under the date 18 July 1844, he begins 'Dearest Harriet, my plan is to suppose that you are just arrived, and that I show you every room and corner of the house,' which they had both known and loved since infancy.

The handbook reveals the Duke's meticulous attention to detail, repeated attempts to get things right, and good-natured willingness to admit mistakes and even failures.

Volume II was to concern Chiswick and Devonshire House, and be dedicated to sister Carlisle; and volume III to concern Bolton Abbey and Lismore Castle. Although the second volume was sketched out, neither was written.

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