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Their Darkest Materials - Book (Physical Copy)


Local taxes included (where applicable), plus postage
Arrives soon! Get it by 29 Nov.-02 Dec.
29 Nov.-02 Dec.

  • Handmade
  • Dispatches from a small business in

    United Kingdom

  • Materials: Paper, ink, printed in UK

A compelling history of the dark side of material culture - especially textiles.

'Their Darkest Materials' is about the seamy, dark, sometimes creepy underside of material culture and textile history. A sort of 'Horrible History' for grown-ups.

In 'Their Darkest Materials', we creep through nineteenth century asylums, debtors' prisons, charity schools, pubs and marketplaces; the 'stews' (brothels) of the city, school-rooms, collapsing London houses, workhouse toilets, small-town waxwork exhibitions in back rooms and see ladies knitting in grand Georgian drawing rooms; following the unravelling thread of history's textiles.

We'll find out which Victorian novelist's mauve ribbon was trapped in her coffin lid and discover clothing-as-evidence in an infamous London burking case ("Burking" as in "Burke and Hare").

And we'll watch a Yorkshire farmer's wife knit a blue stocking on the morning of her murder and a caddish, handsome soldier murdering his stocking-knitting new wife. And we'll spend time in the county asylum with a world famous dyer's incendiarist wife and an embroiderer who used her art to say the unsayable.


1. Grim and Less Grim Deaths: The Approach of the Destroyer, the Partly-Murdered Knitter & Other Tales
2. The Bewitched Spinning Wheel & Other Tales
3. Murder, Mayhem and Knitting as Evidence
4. The Small Woman: The Nineteenth Century Needlewoman
5. "Virtute et Industria". The Stick, the Carrot and the Virtuous Child & Also the Trope of the Extremely Old Knitter
6. The Lost: Runaways - Slaves, Servants, Apprentices and The Captive
7. "Twelve Bobbins Spinning". Charity Schools & Poor Houses
8. Prisons and Idle Loiterers
9. The Dyer Who Watched Storms and also Concerning A Properly Shaped Female
10. Nathaniel Smith, the Knitting Schoolmaster

232 pages. Perfect-bound paperback. Printed in UK. Published by Pretty Baa Lambs Press.

ISBN: 978-1-9163391-0-1
e-ISBN: 978-1-9163391-1-8

PDF version (non interactive) in separate listing.

If you'd like a signed copy, please fill out the box!

NOTE: We are now back mailing out every couple of days as we are printing out labels at home and not having to expose ourselves or our local PO workers to any risk, that way. It also means you, our valued customers, will be getting your mitts on the book faster, again.

Whilst UK postal services are still up and running, we have noticed some considerable delays with US in particular - which means we are now only sending abroad, tracked. So please be patient with us and your postie!



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29 Nov.-02 Dec.

27 Nov.

After you place your order, HemingwayandHunt will take 1-2 business days to prepare it for dispatch.

28-29 Nov.

HemingwayandHunt puts your order in the post.

29 Nov.-02 Dec.

Estimated to arrive at your doorstep 29 Nov.-02 Dec.!

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Etsy offsets carbon emissions from delivery and packaging on this purchase.
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Dispatches from United Kingdom

Penelope Hemingway

Penelope Hemingway

Owner of HemingwayandHunt

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98 reviews

5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars

Just received my copy of 'Their Dark Materials'. Can't wait to get curled up in a big chair with it. Read just a few pages so far and I'm already transported back a couple of centuries. Speedy delivery. Friendly vendor. Excellent service. Many thanks.

Linda Barron 27 Feb, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

A completely fascinating journey into this quirky area of history. I haven't finished the book yet. I am still on the journey. The illustrations are super.

Frances Earnshaw 15 Mar, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

Very well-packaged, posted quickly. Extremely interesting book researching the knitting and textile history of early 19th century Britain, particularly pertaining to the criminal element. Am very much enjoying the read and recommend this book to all fiber enthusiasts. Many thanks to HemingwayandHunt for providing an invaluable historical perspective.

jaknit 12 Apr, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

This book is a fascinating and well-researched look into an esoteric and little-studied corner of textile history. I devoured it in two days and then gave it pride of place among my textile history books. If you like textile history, 19th century British history, and/or true crime you should pick up this book ASAP.

Erica 09 Apr, 2020

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