“A lively social history replete with fine photographs, this book will be of interest to many readers far beyond the pool of Irish textile fanciers.”
“Rather than simply summarizing the history of the craft and industry, Wilson makes a strong and eloquent case for the close connection between Irish emigration and Irish linen…. Beautifully compiled with nearly 200 stunning color photographs of threaded looms, flax stalks and gorgeous patterns, Irish People, Irish Linen presents a little-known segment of history well worth acquainting oneself with.”
“Irish People, Irish Linen is a magnificent history of the Irish people and their association with linen, a tie that dates back to the eighth century. As 10 million Irish moved from their homeland during the past four centuries, they carried their love for Irish linen with them. Kathleen Curtis Wilson eloquently describes this saga in her beautifully illustrated book on linen, the queen of fabrics.”
William R. Ferris, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1977–2001
“Irish People, Irish Linen is a stunningly beautiful coffee table book…. Kathleen Curtis Wilson is to be congratulated on the brilliant organization of her material and the superb manner in which it is displayed.”
The story of Irish linen is a story of the Irish people. Many thousands of men and women made Irish linen a global product and an international brand. It is also a story of innovation and opportunity. Irish linen has served its makers as sail cloth of incredible strength and durability for world exploration and trade; it has functioned as watertight containers for farmers and firemen; it has soothed the brows of royalty and absorbed the sweat of the working class. As outerwear and underwear, linen has clothed men, women, and children from birth to death—the rich and powerful, poor and pitiful alike.
Into this cultural history Kathleen Curtis Wilson weaves personal narratives and the words and songs of individual spinners, factory workers, and out-workers like Sarah McCabe, who created fabulous linen lace; Sarah Leech, who wrote poetry as she spun fine thread; the three Patterson women, who worked in Mossley Mill for a total of one hundred years; and the Herdman brothers, who settled in county Tyrone to build a mill and a utopian community.
Lavishly illustrated and engagingly written, each chapter tells of art, social and economic history, design, architecture, technology, and cultural traditions that celebrate the linen industry.
Kathleen Curtis Wilson is the author of Uplifting the South—Mary Mildred Sullivan’s Legacy for Appalachia and Textile Art from Southern Appalachia: the quiet work of women. She guest curated a multivenue international exhibition by the same name. A renowned authority on Appalachian crafts, Wilson was craft section editor for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia. She lives in Alameda, California. More info →
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