chapter  Chapter 1
20 Pages

Introduction

WithRosemary Sweet

Urban history has become the focus of considerable attention, not least because it was within the urban framework that some of the most significant changes of society in the eighteenth century are commonly held to have taken place. A recent study of women and work in eighteenth-century Edinburgh has highlighted the wide range of occupations in which women across the social strata were engaged and has emphasised their capacity for independent action. Tellingly, the most extended consideration given to the experience of women and issues of gender in the recent Cambridge Urban History comes in Pamela Sharpe's analysis of migration patterns in her chapter on population and society, where, almost by subterfuge, the issue of gender is introduced. Their history of London is presented as a composite of overlapping narratives which reflect the fragmented and partial reality of urban life for those who inhabited London during the roughly 200-year period which the volume covers.