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Shopping for Pleasure : Women in the Making of London's West End - Erika Rappaport

Shopping for Pleasure

Women in the Making of London's West End

Paperback

Published: 9th September 2001
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In "Shopping for Pleasure," Erika Rappaport reconstructs London's Victorian and Edwardian West End as an entertainment and retail center. In this neighborhood of stately homes, royal palaces, and spacious parks and squares, a dramatic transformation unfolded that ultimately changed the meaning of femininity and the lives of women, shaping their experience of modernity. Rappaport illuminates the various forces of the period that encouraged and discouraged women's enjoyment of public life and particularly shows how shopping came to be seen as the quintessential leisure activity for middle- and upper-class women. Through extensive histories of department stores, women's magazines, clubs, teashops, restaurants, and the theater as interwoven sites of consumption, "Shopping for Pleasure" uncovers how a new female urban culture emerged before and after the turn of the twentieth century.

Moving beyond the question of whether shopping promoted or limited women's freedom, the author draws on diverse sources to explore how business practices, legal decisions, and cultural changes affected women in the market. In particular, she focuses on how and why stores presented themselves as pleasurable, secure places for the urban woman, in some cases defining themselves as instrumental to civic improvement and women's emancipation. Rappaport also considers such influences as merchandizing strategies, credit policies, changes in public transportation, feminism, and the financial balance of power within the home. "Shopping for Pleasure" is thus both a social and cultural history of the West End, but on a broader scale it reveals the essential interplay between the rise of consumer society, the birth of modern femininity, and the making of contemporary London.

Honorable Mention for the 2001 British Council Prize, sponsored by the North American Conference on British Studies "A fascinating look at the origins of the female shopping species in London's West End during the Victorian and Edwardian times. Rappaport's central hypothesis is heartening: Shopping, for necessities and for pleasure, was a key factor in getting domestically cloistered women out of the house and into town on their own... The pleasures of shopping were liberating in profound ways..."--Gerri Hirshey, Mirabella "A thoughtful and accessible study that illuminates the period in a new and colorful way."--Lynne Truss, Sunday Times (London) "Living in an era of unprecedented prosperity it is interesting, not to mention instrumental, to be aware of how other societies reacted to the onset of a commercial boom. Shopping for Pleasure not only illuminates the growth of late-19th-century London, but it sheds light on our own gratuitously materialistic culture."--Lucy Moore, Washington Times "'A Pleasure' accurately describes the experience of reading this deft, rich analysis of how the West End became an enticing shopping Mecca for bourgeois women..."--Choice "A fascinating as well as an erudite book ...The rise of modern shopping opened the city streets to respectable women, and played a significant role in both feminism and consumer culture"--Elaine Showalter, London Review of Books "The rise of modern shopping opened the city streets to respectable women and played a significant role in both feminism and consumer culture... A fascinating as well as an erudite book."--Elaine Showalter, London Review of Books "[An] intriguing study... Shopping for Pleasure creatively explores an assortment of conflicts about women's natures and desires that, together, constructed Victorian and Edwardian merchandising and consuming."--Pamela Walker Laird, Enterprise & Society "In her engaging and intriguing book, Erika Rappaport ... has done an excellent job of showing how the consumer culture of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century London was created, in large part, by the emancipated woman's active agency... Rappaport's book is one of those displays that are so attractive and enticing that they leave the insatiable customer wanting even more."--Theodore Koditschenk, Journal of Modern History "A well-constructed and presented book, making imaginative use of an impressive range of primary and secondary sources."--Rex Pope, Urban History

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: "To Walk Alone in London"p. 3
"The Halls of Temptation": The Universal Provider and the Pleasures of Suburbiap. 16
"Young London": The Making of a Suburban Shopping Centerp. 19
The Spectacular Universal Providerp. 27
"When Ladies Go 'Shopping'"p. 29
"Our Local Regent Street"p. 40
The Trials of Consumption: Marriage, Law, and Women's Creditp. 48
Credit: "The Shopkeeper's Temptation"p. 50
The Wife's Authority and Husband's Liabilityp. 55
Consumption on Trialp. 65
Ready Money, Married Women, and the Department Storep. 70
"Resting Places for Women Wayfarers": Feminism and the Comforts of the Public Spherep. 74
Pleasure in the Public Spherep. 76
"Either Ladies Didn't Go Out or Ladies Didn't 'Go'"p. 79
Female Clublandp. 85
"A Social Ark for Shoppers"p. 93
"Shopland Is My Club"p. 101
Metropolitan Journeys: Shopping, Traveling, and Reading the West Endp. 108
The Women's Press and Consumer Culturep. 111
"The Best Exhibition in This Modern Babylon"p. 115
"Ballade of an Omnibus"p. 122
"Madame's More Comprehensive Feminine Glance"p. 126
The Lady Guides' Londonp. 132
"A New Era of Shopping": An American Department Store in Edwardian Londonp. 142
"London's American Phase"p. 144
Selling Selfridge'sp. 154
"A Time of Profit, Recreation, and Enjoyment"p. 159
"Man's Best Buying Center"p. 171
"British Shes Should Shop at British Stores"p. 172
Acts of Consumption: Musical Comedy and the Desire of Exchangep. 178
"Going Up West"p. 180
Selling to the Modern Audiencep. 184
"The Romance of a Shop Girl"p. 192
The Shopper's Characterp. 203
Theater of Desirep. 206
Epilogue: The Politics of Plate Glassp. 215
Notesp. 223
Bibliographyp. 281
Indexp. 315
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691044767
ISBN-10: 0691044767
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 344
Published: 9th September 2001
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 15.8  x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.51