Women's History: Britain, 1700-1850: An Introduction

Women's History: Britain, 1700-1850: An Introduction

Women's History: Britain, 1700-1850: An Introduction

Women's History: Britain, 1700-1850: An Introduction


Placing women's experiences in the context of the major social, economic and cultural shifts that accompanied the industrial and commercial transformations of this period, Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus paint a fascinating picture of the change, revolution, and continuity that were encountered by women of this time.

A thorough and well-balanced selection of individual chapters by leading field experts and dynamic new scholars, combine original research with a discussion of current secondary literature, and the contributors examine areas as diverse as the Enlightenment, politics, religion, education, sexuality, family, work, poverty, and consumption. The authors most importantly realise that female historical experience is not generic, and that it can be significantly affected by factors such as social status, location, age, race and religion.

Providing a captivating overview of women and their lives, this book is an essential purchase for the study of women's history, and, providing delightful little gems of knowledge and insight, it will also appeal to any reader with an interest in this fascinating topic.


Britain witnessed huge changes between 1700 and 1850, not least because imperial expansion, military success, and the development of trade made the nation into the leading world power. In addition, as urbanization, industrialization, and the commercialization of agriculture served to transform the landscape of much of Britain, population growth, changes in social structure and political and religious developments greatly affected its people. The aim of this volume is to describe women’s experiences in the context of the major social, economic, and cultural shifts that accompanied such transformations. It is not, however, our intention to present a picture of permanent revolution: much changed over the 150 years charted here, but many important continuities are also evident. Moreover, while this is a book specifically about women in the past, it does not pretend that we can speak of a shared female historical experience. Instead, it is assumed that factors such as social status, location, age, race, and religion could significantly affect women’s lives – sometimes to the extent that gender can appear less important than other factors in determining the experiences of individual women. Finally, while this volume is about British women’s history, it concentrates on the history of women in England, Scotland, and Wales. Some contributors do touch upon the experience of women in Ireland, but Irish women’s history for this period is a topic in its own right and cannot be adequately addressed here.

A nation transformed?

Between 1700 and 1850, Britain was transformed from a largely rural society to an increasingly urban one. Nearly half the population of England . . .

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