Family Fortunes (Cloth)

Family Fortunes is a major groundbreaking study that will become a classic in its field. I was fascinated by the information it provided and the argument it established about the role of gender in the construction of middle-class values, family life, and property relations. The book explores how the middle class constructed its own institutions, material culture and values during the industrial revolution, looking at two settings--urban manufacturing Birmingham and rural Essex--both centers of active capitalist development. The use of sources is dazzling: family business records, architectural designs, diaries, wills and trusts, newspapers, prescriptive literature, sermons, manuscript census tracts, the papers of philanthropic societies, popular fiction, and poetry. Family Fortunes occupies a place beside Mary Ryan's The Cradle of the Middle Class and Suzanne Lebsock's Free Women of Petersburg. It provides scholars with a definitive study of the middle class in England, and facilitates a comparative perspective on the history of middle-class women, property, and the family.--Judith Walkowitz, Johns Hopkins University