Foundations of Female Entrepreneurship

That’s the title of Alison Kay’s recent book, The Foundations of Female Entrepreneurship: Enterprise, Home and Household in London, c. 1800-1870 (Routledge, 2009). The book uses unique data from a London fire insurance company to characterize male and female entrepreneurs during the 19th century. According to reviewer Joyce Burnette,

women were active in business during the nineteenth century.  Women were not confined to a separate sphere, and couverture did not prevent them from operating as entrepreneurs.  Strikingly, Kay concludes that the story of women in business is neither a story of a lost golden age, nor one of emancipation, but a story of continuity across history.  Whatever the rhetoric, businesswomen were consistently involved in business throughout the Victorian period.

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