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The 'perpetual fair'Gender, disorder and urban amusement in eighteenth-century London$
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Anne Wohlcke

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090912

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090912.001.0001

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‘Dirty Molly’ and ‘The Greasier Kate’:

‘Dirty Molly’ and ‘The Greasier Kate’:

The feminine threat to urban order

(p.122) 4 ‘Dirty Molly’ and ‘The Greasier Kate’
The 'perpetual fair'

Anne Wohlcke

Manchester University Press

Chapter four examines how women’s bodies were used to represent the overall danger London’s fairs presented the city and even the nation. Literary and artistic representations of the danger of London fairs featured prominently unruly or immoral women. This chapter provides an overview of the unflattering literary and artistic depictions of women providing services or enjoying the spectacle of fairs and analyzes their significance in terms of early modern notions that gender order was the foundation for a stable society. Fears about the unpredictability of urban amusement were embodied in representations of women who tempted men or flouted gender hierarchy at fairs. Court records, periodicals, pamphlets, sermons, and newspapers relating to London’s fairs reveal that social critics shared assumptions that upsetting gender order threatened metropolitan social order. Representations of women at fairs reveal, also, how views of women common in early modern Europe were adapted to and continued to be invoked in an increasingly modern environment.

Keywords:   Women, Representations, Working women, Early modern women

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