The Hidden History of the Material World

Victoria Finlay author


Publisher:Profile Books Ltd

Published:3rd Nov '22


Available for immediate dispatch.

This paperback is available in other editions too:

A magnificent work of original research, unwinding history through cloth - how we make it, use it and what it means to us

'Subtle, compendious and rich' - James McConnachie, The Sunday Times 'Dazzling ... Finlay's adventures, vividly recounted, make enthralling reading ... This book is equally an inspiration and an education' - Bel Mooney, Daily Mail 'A gorgeous adventure through the history of cloth' - Stylist The Sunday Times best paperbacks of 2022 Bestselling author Victoria Finlay spins us round the globe in a vibrant exploration of cloth through the ages. She beats the inner bark of trees into cloth in Papua New Guinea, fails to handspin cotton in Guatemala, visits tweed weavers at their homes in Harris, and has lessons in patchwork-making in Gee's Bend, Alabama. And through it all she uncovers the hidden histories of fabric: how and why people have made it, worn it, invented it and made symbols of it Interlaced with Victoria's own story of grief and recovery, Fabric is a lush patchwork of travel, history, memoir and culture - an unforgettable look into how we have made fabric, and how it has made us.

Subtle, compendious and rich ... an emotive and serious work of what you might call history on the distaff side * Sunday Times *
Enthralling and sumptuously spun narrative history of how and why people around the world have made, used and worn different kinds of fabric. Beginning her research shortly after the death of her parents, Finlay finds her own story of love and grief entwined in the threads too, making for a fine blend indeed -- Caroline Sanderson, Non-Fiction Editor's Choice for November * The Bookseller *
Equally an inspiration and an education * Daily Mail *
At a moment when alarming statistics regarding textile waste have triggered calls for sustainability within the fashion industry, Finlay takes the reader on a journey of personal discovery that spans the breadth of the globe over the course of centuries ... with deft cultural consciousness. Part historical survey, part memoir and part travelogue, "Fabric" follows Finlay as she discovers the secrets behind each material's history with such wonderment - such reverence - that one cannot help believing in the "hidden magic" she insists is spun into each fibre. Like a skilled weaver, she takes many disparate threads and constructs a compelling narrative as informative as it is emotionally engaging. These moments - where fabric is given life through worn experience are ... fascinating [and] Victoria Finlay gives them their due -- Raissa Bretaña, Fashion Historian * New York Times *
Poetically profound -- Sheila Hicks
I am wildly impressed by the depth of her research and the stories she finds -- Alexandra Shulman, former Editor of British Vogue, journalist and bestselling author of Clothes... And Other Things That Matter
Highly personal and tactile ... fascinating. Subtle, compendious and rich, if this was just a cultural history of fabric it would be a fine piece of work. But Finlay weaves another story into the book: she is grieving for her mother. Sometimes the joins between the two narratives feel a little raw - but cleverly so. More often the book acquires an extra dimension; the effect that springs to mind is the strange iridescence of that twin-coloured silk you sometimes find as the lining of a suit jacket... This book recovers that relatively silenced or at least sidelined history (of women). It is an emotive and serious work of what you might call history on the distaff side. -- James McConnachie * The Sunday Times *
A gorgeous adventure through the history of cloth weaving together disparate countries and stories in the most fascinating (and personal) of ways * Stylist *
There's something in this wonderfully packed haberdasher's shop for every reader ... Victoria Finlay provides a closely woven warp and weft of answers to questions we never thought to ask, and the pictures in her intricate tapestry are dazzling. An intrepid traveller whose best-selling books already explored the magical worlds of colour and of jewels, she now turns her infinitely curious mind to fabric ... All plans had to be put on hold as the grieving daughter felt "lost and fractured into small pieces". Those "pieces" eventually became the elements of the patchwork she and her mother had promised themselves they would one day create together - and combine to turn the beautifully written narrative of this book into a larger patchwork of healing ... Finlay's adventures, vividly recounted, make enthralling reading ... This book is equally an inspiration and an education -- Bel Mooney * Daily Mail *
Praise for Victoria Finlay -- -
Her curiosity is inexhaustible, her reading wide, and her writing style a delight * Sunday Telegraph *
A highly companionable guide, adventurous and romantic * Independent on Sunday *
This is a rare and wonderful book - a model of erudition and charm, the writing elegant and precise, and with at least one new and fascinating revelation on every single page. -- Simon Winchester
Exuberant * New York Times *
I loved Fabric ... a compelling combination of personal memoir and deeply researched facts, it would make a terrific Christmas present! -- Jane Shemilt, Sunday Times bestselling author of How Far We Fall and Daughter

ISBN: 9781781257074

Dimensions: 196mm x 126mm x 34mm

Weight: 440g

528 pages