This book is about people who worked in the rag trade in the nineteenth century - dressmakers and milliners, tailors, two shoemakers, a framework knitter, a family of corset manufacturers and a lace maker. It deals with the trades and their products, but also with the day-to-day lives of the protagonists, both at work and at home. Working people have always made up the majority of the population and their biographies can be just as complex and interesting as those of the rich and famous.
Featuring biographies of eleven different nineteenth-century clothing workers, Pam Inder explores a range of workers with a variety of backgrounds who worked for different sorts of clientele and did a variety of jobs. They have been chosen because records survive to illuminate their lives, but also because they have a story to tell. They are not necessarily typical, but nor are they atypical; aspects of their lives reflect experiences shared by many others in the same lines of work - be it difficult clients, financial problems, trouble with the law or the effects of grinding poverty. Some were successful, others were not - the dividing line between the two was a narrow one and often depended on luck as much as on judgement.
Pam Inder spent twenty years working as a curator of costume and textiles in various museums. She also taught history of dress to students at De Montfort and Staffordshire Universities. Her PhD was on `English Provincial Dressmakers in the 19th century'. Since retiring, she has co-authored ten books on 19th century subjects relating to women and work.