Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700–1830: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700–1830

1st Edition

By Briony McDonagh


224 pages

Book Content Available Open Access*
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*Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) license

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780367208219
pub: 2019-01-23
Hardback: 9781409456025
pub: 2017-08-15

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Social and economic histories of the long eighteenth century have largely ignored women as a class of landowners and improvers. 1700 to 1830 was a period in which the landscape of large swathes of the English Midlands was reshaped – both materially and imaginatively – by parliamentary enclosure and a bundle of other new practices. Outside the Midlands too, local landscapes were remodelled in line with the improving ideals of the era. Yet while we know a great deal about the men who pushed forward schemes for enclosure and sponsored agricultural improvement, far less is known about the role played by female landowners and farmers and their contributions to landscape change.

Drawing on examples from across Georgian England, Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700–1830 offers a detailed study of elite women’s relationships with landed property, specifically as they were mediated through the lens of their estate management and improvement. This highly original book provides an explicitly feminist historical geography of the eighteenth-century English rural landscape. It addresses important questions about propertied women’s role in English rural communities and in Georgian society more generally, whilst contributing to wider cultural debates about women’s place in the environmental, social and economic history of Britain. It will be of interest to those working in Historical and Cultural Geography, Social, Economic and Cultural History, Women’s Studies, Gender Studies and Landscape Studies.


"Briony McDonagh’s recent monograph, awarded the Joan Thirsk Memorial Prize, tracks the trials and tribulations of seventy elite female farmers in Georgian England. By illuminating wealthy women’s activities in owning, managing and improving landed property, McDonagh’s study provides an important corrective to a historiographical tradition in which male agrarian improvers have been depicted as authors of the rural landscape and female contributions largely effaced. Meticulously researched and closely written, this slim volume opens up new vistas by challenging analyses positing an increasingly gendered division between private and public spheres during the eighteenth century."

- Elly Robson, Jesus College, University of Cambridge

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Women, Land and Property

3. Managing the Estate

4. Improving the Estate

5. County Houses, Gardens and Estate Villages

6. Representing Women and Property

7. Beyond the (Park) Pale

About the Author

Briony McDonagh is a historical and cultural geographer at the University of Hull, UK. She has published widely on the British rural landscape, on women’s histories and historical geographies, and on the geographies of protest, property and the commons. She is Chair of the Historical Geography Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and co-PI of the University of Hull’s Gender, Place and Memory research cluster.

About the Series

Studies in Historical Geography

Studies in Historical Geography
Historical geography has consistently been at the cutting edge of scholarship and research in human geography for the last fifty years. The first generation of its practitioners, led by Clifford Darby, Carl Sauer and Vidal de la Blache presented diligent archival studies of patterns of agriculture, industry and the region through time and space. Drawing on this work, but transcending it in terms of theoretical scope and substantive concerns, historical geography has long since developed into a highly interdisciplinary field seeking to fuse the study of space and time. In doing so, it provides new perspectives and insights into fundamental issues across both the humanities and social sciences. Having radically altered and expanded its conception of the theoretical underpinnings, data sources and styles of writing through which it can practice its craft over the past twenty years, historical geography is now a pluralistic, vibrant and interdisciplinary field of scholarship. In particular, two important trends can be discerned. First, there has been a major 'cultural turn' in historical geography which has led to a concern with representation as driving historical-geographical consciousness, leading scholars to a concern with text, interpretation and discourse rather than the more materialist concerns of their predecessors. Secondly, there has been a development of interdisciplinary scholarship, leading to fruitful dialogues with historians of science, art historians and literary scholars in particular which has revitalised the history of geographical thought as a realm of inquiry in historical geography. Studies in Historical Geography aims to provide a forum for the publication of scholarly work which encapsulates and furthers these developments. Aiming to attract an interdisciplinary and international authorship and audience, Studies in Historical Geography will publish theoretical, historiographical and substantive contributions meshing time, space and society.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography