Publication: Alice Dolan, ‘The Fabric of Life: Time and Textiles in an Eighteenth-Century Plebeian Home’, in Home Cultures: The Journal of Architecture, Design and Domestic Space, 11, 3 (2014), 333-374.

Available on Open Access at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175174214X14035295691238

Abstract: This article presents a new methodology that brings together the life cycles of people and linen with seasonality to explore how these factors affected domestic practice. This juxtaposition enables an exploration of the temporal nature of the home: life cycle and seasonality influenced the work that people did, when they did it, and how much time they spent on a particular task in a year. Temporal patterns are explored through the analysis of linen, an eighteenth-century daily necessity for rich and poor alike. The provisioning and care of linen was an essential domestic task; the whiteness of a shirt signified its owner’s respectability. The account book of Richard Latham, a plebeian farmer, is used to develop the approach. Latham, from Scarisbrick, Lancashire, kept an account book from 1723 to 1767. The impact of life cycle and seasonality on the Lathams’ domestic practice is explored through the growing, dressing, spinning, bleaching, and washing of linen.


Publication: John Styles, ‘Spinners and the Law: Regulating Yarn Standards in the English Worsted Industries, 1550–1800’, Textile History, 44 (2013), 145–170.

Available on Open Access at: http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/0040496913Z.00000000026

Abstract: The Worsted Acts, passed between 1777 and 1791, established semi-official industrial police forces in nearly a third of the counties of England, charged with detecting and prosecuting fraudulent reeling of worsted yarn by hand spinners. The Acts have been interpreted as the response of late eighteenth-century employers to new and growing problems of labour discipline associated with the putting-out system. But frauds by spinners in reeling yarn were not new. They had characterised the worsted industry since its rapid expansion began at the end of the sixteenth century. Over the subsequent two centuries, employers addressed the problem repeatedly. How they tackled it depended crucially on the way the different regional worsted industries were organised and on dramatic changes in the willingness and capacity of the state to regulate manufacturing. The Worsted Acts emerge as the product of a distinctive eighteenth-century approach to industrial regulation, reactive and particularistic, but bureaucratically innovative.


Conference: Emotional Objects: Touching Emotions in Europe, 1600-1900, 11-12 October 2013, Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

'Jockey and Jenny', printed engraving, 1783. The accompanying verses read: 'Till bolder grown so close he press'd His wanton thoughts I quickly guess'd Then push'd him from my Rock and Reel And angry turn'd my Spinning Wheel'.

‘Jockey and Jenny’, printed engraving, 1783.
‘Till bolder grown so close he press’d
His wanton thoughts I quickly guess’d
Then push’d him from my Rock and Reel
And angry turn’d my Spinning Wheel’.

Emotional Objects aimed to stimulate interdisciplinary debate concerning what objects can tell us about emotions, and what emotions contribute to material culture. In particular, it explored the way the materiality of objects – the very stuff of which they were made – has performed emotional work.

In the course of the last decade, both an emotional turn and a material turn have been identified as key developments in historical scholarship. Yet the emotions and material culture have rarely been considered in combination. Emotional Objects sought to bring them together.

The majority of papers will be podcast (imminently). Alice and Sally Holloway also have a research output planned. More information to follow.

For further information or to contribute to our ‘archive’ of emotional objects go to: