Thursday, 21 July 2005

Career Women in 18th Century London

Jane Austen

It is probably surprising to hear that career women existed in 18th century London. In fact, they dominated the business of clothes (the rag trade, as we would call it), they ran schools, they were dentists and silversmiths, wrote novels (think of Jane Austen) and books on being a good housewife.

There were also some women who took to highway robbery.
An account from 1763 tells of how a gentleman and his wife were ambushed on Harrow Road. One of them "insisted the gentleman should do her a favour under a thick hedge". The highway-woman's partner apparently got jealous and took the gentleman's wife under the other hedge for similar purposes. While the highway-woman was being 'entertained' by her captive, she heard the ticking of his watch and demanded that he surrender that to her as well, which he did "with some reluctance".


Perdita said...

do me a favour under a thick hedge
is going to be my new favorite saying

Alterior said...

Heh heh heh ;-))