Novels, Needleworks, and Empire: Material Entanglements in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The first sustained study of the vibrant links between domestic craft and British colonialism

In the eighteenth century, women’s contributions to empire took fewer official forms than those collected in state archives. Their traces were recorded in material ways, through the ink they applied to paper or the artifacts they created with muslin, silk threads, feathers, and shells. Handiwork, such as sewing, knitting, embroidery, and other crafts, formed a familiar presence in the lives and learning of girls and women across social classes, and it was deeply connected to colonialism.

Chloe Wigston Smith follows the material and visual images of the Atlantic world that found their way into the hands of women and girls in Britain and early America—in the objects they made, the books they held, the stories they read—and in doing so adjusted and altered the form and content of print and material culture. A range of artifacts made by women, including makers of color, brought the global into conversation with domestic crafts and consequently placed images of empire and colonialism within arm’s reach. Together, fiction and handicrafts offer new evidence of women’s material contributions to the home’s place within the global eighteenth century, revealing the rich and complex connections between the global and the domestic.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew Haven, CT
PublisherYale University Press
Number of pages312
ISBN (Print)9780300270785
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2024

Publication series

NameLewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History

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