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Book Review: The Pocket

Who would think a simple, commonplace pocket could be the holder of such a scope of fascinating research?

Obviously, the authors, Barbara Burman – an independent scholar, and Ariane Fennetaux – associate professor of eighteenth-century history at Université de Paris, did.

This richly illustrated book is a reservoir of an extensive new study into tie-on pockets, with evidence from letters, diaries, criminal trials, inventories, novels, advertisements, paintings, and satirical prints, forming a surprising and deeply evocative story into this accessory of dress throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

First published by Yale University Press, New Haven, and London, in 2019, this small publication opens a surprisingly large vista into the complexities of women’s lives.

Women of all classes made use of tie-on pockets, which also featured highly in court records detailing not only the crime but also what was carried within these supplementary articles.

A door is opened into women’s materiality, possessions, values, mobility – even their privacy, and we are able to walk through and enjoy this wonderful story of pocket love, thanks to this extensive research.

If you love history – and this is truly in-depth, then this book is for you.

It’s an enthralling read.



The Pocket - A Hidden History of Women's Lives
Barbara Burman & Ariane Fennetaux
A riveting read, well researched and presented showing that women of all classes from 1660-1900, have used the far from trivial tie-on pockets in a world not built to suit their needs.

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