chapter  Chapter 5
23 Pages

Urban Businesswomen in Eighteenth-Century England

WithChristine Wiskin

This chapter addresses issues of methodology, as well as discusses empirical evidence and reviews secondary literature. It argues that it is only by asking commercially-oriented questions of what is now a substantial corpus of evidence on this subject that our understanding will be advanced. Nationwide, businesswomen who aspired to make their livings from the demand for commercial entertainment in towns marketed a wide choice of items to all levels of polite society. They organised and sold tickets for concerts, assemblies and balls, presented exhibitions, made and marketed the new clothes which were worn at these events, and sold the China ware on which elegant suppers were served. Arguments based on individual case studies, however encouraging or inspiring they may be, are vulnerable to criticism that they are only examples and, because they do not address the aggregate, fail to carry the discussion further.