Cultural historians have made the study of material culture and consumption a subject in its own right and a necessary precondition of industrialization. The culture of the bourgeoisie has, however, engaged historians and ideologues for some two centuries without any consensus as to when the middle class emerged or how it should be defined. This last of three volumes on the English business community fills this vacuum by exploring empirically how far and when it adopted an alternative lifestyle. It demonstrates how business families spent their money and asks whether their life styles and the possessions that they chose to acquire, constituted a new culture with shared values. It assembles from artifacts as well as from documents and literary sources, a three-dimensional image of the physical and spatial environment in which merchants pursued their daily routines. It then reconstructs their thoughts and feelings to determine whether their world view changed and, if so, in which directions.
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About the Author
Richard Grassby has spent a lifetime exploring the social and economic history of early modern Britain. His major works include: The English Gentleman in Trade: The Life and Works of Sir Dudley North 1641-1691; The Business Community of Seventeenth Century England; Kinship and Capitalism: Marriage, Family and Business in the English-Speaking World, 1580-1740 and Rhetoric and Reality: Culture and Change in early modern Britain.