Women, Work, and Representation: Needlewomen in Victorian Art and Literature

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In Victorian England, virtually all women were taught to sew; needlework was allied with images of domestic economy and with traditional female roles of wife and mother- with home rather than factory. The professional seamstress, however, labored long hours for very small wages creating gowns for the upper and middle classes. In her isolation and helplessness, she provided social reformers with a powerful image of working-class suffering that appealed to the sensibilities of the upper classes and helped galvanize public ...

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