By the same authors

Victims of Fashion: Animal Commodities in Victorian Britain

Research output: Book/ReportBook



Publication details

DatePublished - 18 Nov 2021
Number of pages300
PublisherCambridge University Pres
Place of PublicationCambridge
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)9781108495172

Publication series

NameScience in History


Animal products were used extensively in nineteenth-century Britain. A middle-class Victorian woman might wear a dress made of alpaca wool, drape herself in a sealskin jacket, brush her hair with a tortoiseshell comb, and sport feathers in her hat. She might entertain her friends by playing a piano with ivory keys or own a parrot or monkey as a living fashion accessory. In this innovative study, Helen Cowie examines the role of these animal-based commodities in Britain in the long nineteenth century and traces their rise and fall in popularity in response to changing tastes, availability, and ethical concerns. Focusing on six popular animal products – feathers, sealskin, ivory, alpaca wool, perfumes, and exotic pets – she considers how animal commodities were sourced and processed, how they were marketed and how they were consumed. She also assesses the ecological impact of nineteenth-century fashion.

    Research areas

  • animals, commodities, fashion, Victorian, nineteenth century, Britain, fur seals, egrets, ostriches, elephants, alpacas, vicunas, musk deer, civets, monkeys, parrots, tortoises, exotic pets, perfumes, wool, ivory, fur, feathers, animal rights, environmental history

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