The Pocket is now available in paperback

Posted on July 15, 2020

Pencils, a sketchbook, cake, yards of stolen ribbon, thimbles, snuff boxes, a picture of a lover, two live ducks: these are just some of the fascinating things carried by women and girls in their tie-on pockets, an essential accessory throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

This first book-length study of the tie-on pocket combines materiality and gender to provide new insight into the social history of women’s everyday lives—from duchesses and country gentry to prostitutes and washerwomen—and explore their consumption practices, work, sociability, mobility, privacy, and identity. The authors draw on an unprecedented study of surviving pockets in museums and private collections to identify their materials, techniques, and decoration; their use is investigated through sources as diverse as criminal trials, letters, diaries, inventories, novels, and advertisements. Richly illustrated with paintings, satirical prints, and photographs of artifacts in detail, this innovative book reveals the unexpected story of these deeply evocative and personal objects.




The Pocket A Hidden History of Women’s Lives, 1660–1900 –  Barbara Burman, Ariane Fennetaux
Price: £19.99
Format: Paperback
Publication date: 12 May 2020
Imprint: Yale University Press
Dimensions: 264 pages

What the press say

  • ‘In this riveting book, the authors take advantage of thes pockets’ frequent survival in textile museums, private collections and family holdings across Britain, tracing their presence in art, literature, political satire, domestic organization and court records. In the entwining of art, social and material history, few stones are left unturned’, Roberta Smith, Top Art Books of 2019, The New York Times
  • ‘What particularly interests Burman and Fennetaux is the way in which women of all classes have historically used these tie-on pockets as a supplementary body part to help them negotiate their way through a world that was not built to suit them’, Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian
  • ‘A brilliant book’, Ulinka Rublack, Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘Étudiant correspondances et inventaires, épluchant archives judiciaires (mine d’or qui recense le contenu de poches perdues ou volées), les chercheuses se sont livrées à un passionnante enquête’, Libération


  • ‘un livre passionnant’, Sophie Abriat, Magazine M du Monde