It is now known that Defoe’s Tour, written in the mid-1720s, was pieced together from recollections of much earlier visits to many parts of the country, principally during the years 1698–1712. The material for the following description of the domestic cloth manufacture of the West Riding was probably collected, for example, during visits made between 1698 and 1705. Nevertheless, Defoe was an acute and accurate observer, and his account is scarcely the less valuable today for being related to a period twenty or twenty-five years before the date of writing. This well-known description of the West Riding cloth industry needs only a reminder that it takes, on the whole, too idyllic a view of this form of industrial organization, particularly where the employment of young children was concerned.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.