Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850

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"Family Fortunes is a major groundbreaking study that will become a classic in its field. I was fascinated by the information it provided and the argument it established about the role of gender in the construction of middle-class values, family life, and property relations.

"The book explores how the middle class constructed its own institutions, material culture and values during the industrial revolution, looking at two settings—urban manufacturing Birmingham and rural Essex—both centers of active capitalist development. The use of sources is dazzling: family business records, architectural designs, diaries, wills and trusts, newspapers, prescriptive literature, sermons, manuscript census tracts, the papers of philanthropic societies, popular fiction, and poetry.

"Family Fortunes occupies a place beside Mary Ryan's The Cradle of the Middle Class and Suzanne Lebsock's Free Women of Petersburg. It provides scholars with a definitive study of the middle class in England, and facilitates a comparative perspective on the history of middle-class women, property, and the family."—Judith Walkowitz, Johns Hopkins University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226137322
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1987
  • Series: Women in Culture and Society Series
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Lenore Davidoff is senior lecturer in social history in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex. Catherine Hall is senior lecturer in cultural history at the Polytechnic of East London.
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Table of Contents

Introducing James Luckcock of Birmingham - What was the English middle class? - Concepts and methods
Setting the Scene
Places: The town - Birmingham - The countryside - Essex and Suffolk
People: The family shop - the Cadburys of Birmingham - The family pen - the Taylors of Essex
Part One - Religion and Ideology
1. 'The one thing needful': religion and the middle class
Church and chapel activity - The Evangelical revival and serious Christianity - Church against Dissent - The religious community
2. 'Ye are all one in Christ Jesus': men, women and religion
Doctrines on manliness - Doctrines on femininity - The ministry - The minister's wife - John Angell James: 'bishop' of Birmingham - Church organization: women voting and women speaking - Laymen and women
3. 'The nursery of virtue': domestic ideology and the middle class
The Queen Caroline affair - Middle-class readers and writers - William Cowper and Hannah More - Local writers on separate spheres - Domestic ideologies of the 1830s and 1840s
Part Two - Economic Structure and Opportunity
4. 'A modest competency': men, women and property
Enterprise organization - Land and capital - Enterprise finance - Providing for dependants - The interdependence of enterprise, family and friends - The role of marriage in the enterprise - Training for the enterprise - Retirement from the enterprise
5. 'A man must act': men and the enterprise
Middle-class men and occupations - The search for a 'sound commercial education' - Commerce and trade - Banks and banking - Manufacture - Farming - The professions - The salaried
6. 'The hidden investment': women and the enterprise
Women and property - Women's contribution to the enterprise - The education of women and its effects - Women as teachers - Women as innkeepers - Women in trade - The marginal place of women in the economy - Women, men and occupational identity - How did women survive?
Part Three - Everyday Life: Gender in Action
7. 'Our family is a little world': family structure and relationships
The role of marriage in family formation - Fatherhood - Motherhood - Children - Brothers and sisters - The role of wider kin
8. 'My own fireside': the creation of the middle-class home
What was a home? - The separation of home from work - The meaning of the garden - The lay-out of the home - Running the home - The question of servants
9. 'Lofty pine and clinging vine': living with gender in the middle class
Manners and gentility - Changing attitudes to sexuality - Mobility and gender - Gender and the social occasion - Gender as appearance
10. 'Improving times': men, women and the public sphere
James Bisset of Birmingham - Voluntary associations - Philanthropic societies - Leisure and pleasure - Men, women and citizenship
1. Three poems by local authors
2. Sources for the local study
3. Tables
Notes and references
Select bibliography
People index
Subject index
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