Bikes and Bloomers: Victorian Women Inventors and their Extraordinary Cycle Wear

Bikes and Bloomers: Victorian Women Inventors and their Extraordinary Cycle Wear

by Kat Jungnickel

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Overview

An illustrated history of the evolution of British women's cycle wear.

The bicycle in Victorian Britain is often celebrated as a vehicle of women's liberation. Less noted is another critical technology with which women forged new and mobile public lives—cycle wear. This illustrated account of women's cycle wear from Goldsmiths Press brings together Victorian engineering and radical feminist invention to supply a missing chapter in the history of feminism.

Despite its benefits, cycling was a material and ideological minefield for women. Conventional fashions were unworkable, with skirts catching in wheels and tangling in pedals. Yet wearing “rational” cycle wear could provoke verbal and sometimes physical abuse from those threatened by newly mobile women. Seeking a solution, pioneering women not only imagined, made, and wore radical new forms of cycle wear but also patented their inventive designs. The most remarkable of these were convertible costumes that enabled wearers to transform ordinary clothing into cycle wear.

Drawing on in-depth archival research and inventive practice, Kat Jungnickel brings to life in rich detail the little-known stories of six inventors of the 1890s. Alice Bygrave, a dressmaker of Brixton, registered four patents for a skirt with a dual pulley system built into its seams. Julia Gill, a court dressmaker of Haverstock Hill, patented a skirt that drew material up the waist using a mechanism of rings or eyelets. Mary and Sarah Pease, sisters from York, patented a skirt that could be quickly converted into a fashionable high-collar cape. Henrietta Müller, a women's rights activist of Maidenhead, patented a three-part cycling suit with a concealed system of loops and buttons to elevate the skirt. And Mary Ann Ward, a gentlewoman of Bristol, patented the “Hyde Park Safety Skirt,” which gathered fabric at intervals using a series of side buttons on the skirt. Their unique contributions to cycling's past continue to shape urban life for contemporary mobile women.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781906897758
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 05/04/2018
Series: Goldsmiths Press
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kat Jungnickel is Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department of Goldsmiths, University of London and the author of Bikes and Bloomers: Victorian Women Inventors and Their Extraordinary Cycle Wear (Goldsmiths Press).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

Part 1

Introduction: Making, Wearing and Inventing Futures 3

1 'One Wants Nerves of Iron': Cycling in Victorian Britain 11

2 From the Victorian Lady to the Lady Cyclist 31

3 Inventing Solutions to the 'Dress Problem' 55

4 The 1890s Patenting Boom and the Cycle Craze 77

5 Extraordinary Cycle Wear Patents 95

Part II

6 Patent No. 17,145: Alice Bygrave and Her 'Bygrave Convertible Skirt' 121

7 Patent No. 6794; Julia Gill and Her Convertible Cycling Semi-Skirt 155

8 Patent No. 8766: Frances Henrietta Müller and Her Three-Piece Convertible Cycling Suit 181

9 Patent No. 13,832: Mary and Sarah Pease and Their Convertible Cycling Skirt/Cape 207

10 Patent No. 9605: Mary Ward and Her Convertible 'Hyde Park Safety Skirt' 229

Part III

Conclusion: The Politics of Patenting (or How to Change the World One Garment at a Time) 249

British Cycle Wear Patents 1890-1900: (for New or Improvements to Women's Skirts for the Purposes of Cycling) 257

Notes 269

Bibliography 293

List of figures 309

Index 317

What People are Saying About This

Endorsement

This meticulously researched book demonstrates how women hacked their way into cycling culture. Kat Jungnickel opens up new pathways for thinking about and researching the relationships of design, mobilities and women's history.

Guy Julier, Professor of Design, Victoria and Albert Museum and University of Brighton

From the Publisher

I was fascinated by this book and by what I learned about what we wear on bikes and how women have worked (and still are working) to make it all fit better. So much has changed since the days of bloomers, and yet so much hasn't. Kat Jungnickel's book is a valuable new resource for anyone interested in women riding bikes and how they do it.

Emily Chappell, fastest woman in the 2016 Transcontinental Race, founding member of the Adventure Syndicate, and author of What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier's Story

Utterly fascinating, beautifully written and a work of supreme scholarship. Much more than an account of an emergent Victorian cycling revolution, this is a social history told through the story of invention, technology, craft and female subjugation. More importantly, this is a book about controlling narratives and the telling of history itself.

Dallas Campbell, BBC presenter, Bang Goes the Theory; author of Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet

Kat Jungnickel effectively rewrites a traditionally masculine history of bicycles: these women are recast as makers of the world, not just spectators of masculine innovation. Through radical sociology, Bikes and Bloomers breaks new ground for design studies and dress history while also becoming an exemplar of inventive research methodology. A rigorous, enjoyable read!

Timo Rissanen, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability, Parsons School of Design, The New School, New York; author of Zero Waste Fashion Design

This meticulously researched book demonstrates how women hacked their way into cycling culture. Kat Jungnickel opens up new pathways for thinking about and researching the relationships of design, mobilities and women's history.

Guy Julier, Professor of Design, Victoria and Albert Museum and University of Brighton

Customer Reviews