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PEEL, Constance Dorothy Evelyn.

The Hat Shop.

London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1914 Stock Code: 130287
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An uncommon novel on the morality of fashion

First edition, first and only impression, of this "vivid picture of one side of the world of fashion and of the cost to those who serve it" (Pall Mall Gazette), written by the acclaimed journalist and writer on household management. It is uncommon institutionally and commercially; we have seen one other copy in a cheap "popular edition" binding of flexible cloth wrappers.

"Inspired by her sister, who was illustrating articles for The Queen, Constance Dorothy Evelyn Peel OBE (1869-1934) won a competition for a dress article in Woman. Despite her poor education, she went on to write for most of the popular magazines and newspapers of her time, her earnings giving her an unusual amount of financial independence" (ODNB). Family hardships prompted a change in career and Peel opened a hat shop with her friend Ethel Kentish. "The business met with some success, with famous clients such as Ellen Terry. However, she had doubts about the morality of fashion and eventually decided to close down the business owing to ill health. When she recovered in 1914 she wrote a novel, The Hat Shop, which met with critical acclaim, encouraging her to write three more" (ibid.). Her best known work is perhaps The Stream of Time: Social and Domestic Life in England 1805-1861 (1931). Peel was praised in particular for her dogged investigative approach to her work: The Times wrote that "her industry was astonishing, for she went down coalmines, inspected prisons, reformatories and factories, examined schools and studied diet for the young, in addition to regular journalism and four novels In her autobiography Life's Enchanted Cup she made it clear that she worked out of necessity as well as pleasure: to provide for her two children, to support an aunt, and to save for her old age". She also sat on a number of governmental committees after World War One, working to improve the domestic lives of women. A fascinating figure, Peel is well-deserving of a more detailed biography.

Library Hub records just five locations for this edition, with WorldCat adding a single copy in the Library and Archives of Canada. We suggest that this copy survives only as a result of it being an advance order placed for a subscription library.

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Octavo. Original black cloth, spine and front board lettered in gilt, front board panelled in blind.


With the 24-page publisher's catalogue.


An ex-subscription library copy, the cloth a little rubbed, soiled and spotted, spine pulled at the head with some associated splitting, bookplate and sale price stamp to front pastedown, signature of "Grant" on facing page in pencil, book block toned and occasionally foxed, short worm-track through the last few catalogue pages, but overall very good.


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