chapter  5
Social class and membership
Pages 21

Elizabeth Gaskell in her novel, Mary Barton, A Tale of Manchester Life, published in 1848, highlighted the enthusiasm amongst weavers for learning.

There is a class of men in Manchester, but they are scattered all over the manufacturing districts of Lancashire … in the neighbourhood of Oldham there are weavers, common hand-loom weavers, who throw the shuttle with unceasing sound, though Newton’s Principia lies open on the loom, to be snatched at in work hours, but revelled over in meal times, or at night. Mathematical problems are received with interest, and studied with absorbing attention by many a broad-spoken common-looking factory-hand (Gaskell 1967: 34).