August 5th, 2009

woman's magazine

Before Internet Shopping

I’ve been trawling online for lighting and after hitting on Littlewoods, was charmed to find that they have an archive tracing 7 Decades of Catalogue Home Shopping. This sets out to be a social history and starts by describing 'woman’s lot' in the 1930s. You can bet your boots that home shopping is going to feature as a major improvement in women’s lives. There was of course less new about it than Littlewoods would have you know. Mail order was well established before the 1930s; how else would people in far flung corners of the empire have received their home comforts? Many novels refer to orders from ‘The Stores’ ( The Army & Navy Stores ). John and Mary (in John and Mary at Riverton) buy 'an old Store’s List' which they intend to cut up for a scrapbook. What about Blackadder and his love of the 'Harrods lingerie catalogue' (in Blackadder Goes Fourth)? I’ve just been reading yet again The Proper Place by O Douglas (1926) in which Barbara asks Lady Jane if she has 'decided on the chintz', because if so, she’ll write for it straight away. This was middle class shopping though; the revolution came in selling by mail to ‘the ordinary housewife’.
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