Female Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth-Century England

Engagement in the Urban Economy

  • Jennifer Aston

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Jennifer Aston
    Pages 1-21
  3. Jennifer Aston
    Pages 53-101
  4. Jennifer Aston
    Pages 103-138
  5. Jennifer Aston
    Pages 139-173
  6. Jennifer Aston
    Pages 175-209
  7. Jennifer Aston
    Pages 211-226
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 227-257

About this book


Aston challenges and reshapes the on-going debate concerning social status, economic opportunity, and gender roles in nineteenth-century society. 

Sources including trade directories, census returns, probate records, newspapers, advertisements, and photographs are analysed and linked to demonstrate conclusively that women in nineteenth-century England were far more prevalent in business than previously acknowledged. Moreover, women were able to establish and expand their businesses far beyond the scope of inter-generational caretakers in sectors of the economy traditionally viewed as unfeminine, and acquire the assets and possessions that were necessary to secure middle-class status. These women serve as a powerful reminder that the middle-class woman’s retreat from economic activity during the nineteenth-century, so often accepted as axiomatic, was not the case. In fact, women continued to act as autonomous and independent entrepreneurs, and used business ownership as a platform to participate in the economic, philanthropic, and political public sphere.


Human capital Economic Historiography Businesswomen Social history Gender studies Business entreprises Middle-class Small scale manufacturing Gender Entrepreneurship Business Economic history Social history Women's history

Authors and affiliations

  • Jennifer Aston
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Oxford YorkUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking