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Title: Lilies and lace : an investigation into the relationship between hand and machine made costume lace through fashionable middle class consumption, 1851-1887
Author: Brompton, Ruth R. N.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3481 326X
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis investigates the relationship between hand and machine-made costume lace in the mid-Victorian period through an examination of the social issues in relation to its use and how it was viewed. Given that women were the prime consumers, I have examined lace through its relationship with the mid Victorian middle class woman. The idealised descriptions of lace as 'fairy-like' mystified the practical reality in which lace existed during this period (1851-1887) just as the concept of 'The Angel in the House' or John Ruskin's metaphor of 'ladies' as 'Lilies' belied the everyday reality of middle class women. Lace has proved to be especially useful in providing insights into the complexity of these women's lives, in a manner which few other generic objects or materials could accomplish. The metaphorical and social importance of lace to mid-Victorian middle class society is evident through the large amount of references to lace found in novels, women's magazines, advice books and in personal letters of women. Complementing this, the value of lace as a physically useful material has been demonstrated through the evidence cited of the use of lace upon costume and, still more importantly, through the evidence showing the extent of the reuse of lace. Between 1851 and 1887, hand and machine-made lace were both in commercial production, with the fashionable consumer market being further complicated by the growing interest in the leisured production of lace and the increasing social and financial value of 'old' lace. This thesis, shows that the use of lace by the middle class woman was carefully considered according to its required use. Practically, economically and equally importantly is its social significance to others. Furthermore, this thesis underlines, that items that are not generally deemed worthy of collection, including adapted, damaged and repaired items, are, for the social historian, the pieces which produce the greatest understanding of lace within the social context of consumption.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mid Victorian middle class women