© 1996

Adapting to Capitalism

Working Women in the English Economy, 1700–1850


Part of the Studies in Gender History book series (SGH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Pamela Sharpe
    Pages 1-2
  3. Pamela Sharpe
    Pages 71-100
  4. Pamela Sharpe
    Pages 130-148
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 154-226

About this book


This book considers patterns of women's employment in the period 1700-1850. Focusing on the county of Essex, material on the worsted industry, agriculture, fashion trades, service, prostitution, and marriage and family life will shed light on contemporary debates in history such as the sexual division of labour, controversy over continuity or change in women's employment, the importance of ideas of 'separate spheres' and 'domestic ideology', and the overall effects of capitalism on women's employment.


marriage migration women

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK

About the authors

PAMELA SHARPE is currently Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia in Perth. She was Lecturer in Social and Economic History at the University of Bristol from 1993 to 1999. The author received an MA (Hons) in Economic History from the University of Edinburgh and completed a doctorate in demographic history at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, University of Cambridge, in 1989. From 1990 to 1993 she was Essex County Council Research Fellow in Local History at the University of Essex.

Bibliographic information


'Sharpe's study is one of the best, most meticulous monographs on all the ways that women worked in the early industrial period. Women indeed adapted to capitalism and it has taken decades to bring to light all the costs of that achievement'. - Deborah Valenze, American Historical Review

'the book is fascinating in itself...a model of how such studies can be done and invaluable to researchers in many fields...' - Eve Hostettler, Labour History Review