WIVES, WIDOWS, AND SINGLEWOMEN: WORKING WOMEN AT LONDON’S EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FAIRS

Anne Wohlcke

Abstract


Eighteenth-century city officials and social commentators targeted London fairs as disorderly institutions that interfered with “true” commerce. Critics used gendered imagery to describe the evils of fairs, and unruly women were central to these descriptions. Women faced increasing criticism of their presence at fairs, but they continued to work there in large numbers—many in prominent positions and usually in the same capacities as men. At all levels, women were visible participants in these seasonal festivities.

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