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Consuming Splendor

Consuming Splendor
Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England


  • Date Published: November 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521842327

£ 89.99

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About the Authors
  • A fascinating study of the ways in which the consumption of luxury goods transformed social practices, gender roles, royal policies, and the economy in seventeenth-century England. Linda Levy Peck charts the development of new ways of shopping; new aspirations and identities shaped by print, continental travel, and trade to Asia, Africa, the East and West Indies; new building, furnishing, and collecting; and the new relationship of technology, luxury and science. As contemporaries eagerly appropriated and copied foreign material culture, the expansion of luxury consumption continued across the usual divide of the Civil War and the Interregnum and helped to propel England from the margins to the center of European growth and innovation. Her findings show for the first time the seventeenth-century origins of consumer society and she offers the reader a novel framework for the history of seventeenth-century England.

    • Fascinating and groundbreaking study of the emergence of consumer society in seventeenth-century England
    • Examines the development of new modes of shopping, building, collecting, clothing, furnishing, technology, science, and travel
    • Interdisciplinary topic which will appeal to scholars in seventeenth-century history, literature, social and cultural history, art history, and economic history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… an encyclopaedic survey of the origins of the shopping mall and consumer revolution in 17th-century London.' Sunday Herald

    'Based on persuasive evidence from such diverse aspects of seventeenth-century English society and culture as government policy, travel, building, shopping, gardening, and collecting, Consuming Splendor shows convincingly that luxury consumption transformed the economy, material culture, and aesthetic standards well before the "long" eighteenth century in which scholars have previously located a consumer revolution. Consuming Splendor also provides a new dimension to women's history and gender studies by showing that women as well as men enthusiastically embraced new roles as shoppers, consumers, and connoisseurs. Finally, it contributes to the ongoing revision of Stuart history by demonstrating that these developments continued uninterrupted during the upheavals of the Civil War.' Barbara Harris, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    'This is a book which is at once highly readable and crammed with fascinating detail and which offers a fresh and valuable new perspective on the seventeenth century. These are virtues that usually get in the way of one another; but here we are enthralled and instructed in equal measure.' John Morrill, University of Cambridge

    'Linda Levy Peck's Consuming Splendor lucidly and accessibly traces a variety of new economic practices and new patterns of manufacture and consumption through the English seventeenth century. She provides a wealth of previously unexamined materials - the architecture of shopping in Jacobean London, for example, or the ways in which consumers were trained in their new wants - and analyzes some of the ways England became first a great consumer of luxury goods and, later, a great producer of them. Pertinently illustrated, often with previously undiscussed examples, the book will interest literary scholars and cultural critics as much as historians and any reader attracted by a cultural watershed in early modern England.' A. R. Braunmuller, University of California, Los Angeles

    'Consuming Splendor is an appropriately luxurious volume … Professor Peck knows her subject. … Clearly an academic suited to her field of study. From the perspective of history, she comforts the addicted …' Times Online

    '[Peck's] investigations carry her through a most impressive bibliography of references, brimming over with the most apposite quotations from contemporaries, and stiffened by multitudinous pieces of recent research … her emphasis on the wonders and the variety of the luxuries that burgeoned in the seventeenth century produce a thoroughly convincing argument … Peck's book is a magnificent survey of a luxury-ridden seventeenth century.' The Economic History Review

    'Consuming Splendor is itself a lavish product of CUP, generous in size, with quality illustrations, but at the same time reasonably priced. … Linda Levy Peck provides an accessible account of luxury shopping, collecting and patronage among the rich of Jacobean, Stuart and Civil War England, and mainly London. … This book is itself a splendid collection, a juxtaposition of well-known accounts of courtly collecting and virtuosi projects together with detailed investigation of occasional episodes such as Lional Cranfield's London building projects or John Cheynes' commissioning of a funeral monument from the Bernini workshops for his wife, Lady Jane. … Consuming Splendor brings together examples of collecting and displaying art, luxury goods, and scientific objects, which before have only been studied separately.' History Today

    '… handsomely produced and richly illustrated book … The reader emerges full of admiration for the unusual and enlightening information it contains … commendably wide-ranging research … It would be churlish to ask for more.' The English Historical Review

    'Professor Peck's excellent book casts new light on the consumption of luxury goods during the latter part of the sixteenth century and the whole of the seventeenth century; what might be called a long seventeenth century … There is no doubt that Linda Levy Peck has produced a major new work on the society and the economy of the late sixteenth and seventeenth century England. She has offered new thoughts on the constituents of luxury and its uses. Peck has pushed the accepted advent of the division of retail shopping from wholesale and manufacturers forward by about one hundred years. At the same time she has caused a rethink on the effect of the English Civil Wars and the Interregnum on trade and the consumption of luxury. Consuming Splendor is well footnoted and has a extensive bibliography and index. It would make a worthy addition to any interested party's bookshelf and at £20 (hardback) is a steal.' Open History: The Journal of the Open University History Society

    '…Peck's admirable command of the primary evidence allows the reader to gain an intimate sense of the experience of being an aristocratic consumer residing in a London that was opening up to the riches of the world. This is a wonderful in which to dip for a plethora of insights into the growth of demand of luxuries and the attempts to both stimulate and to satisfy it.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'There is no doubt that Linda Levy Peck has produced a major new work on the society and the economy of late sixteenth century England. She has offered new thoughts on the constitutions of luxury and its uses. peck has pushed the accepted advent of the division of retail shopping from wholesale and manufacturers forward by about one hundred years. At the same time she has caused a rethink on the effect of the English Civil wars and the Interregnum on trade and consumption of luxury. Consuming Splendor is well footnoted and has an extensive bibliography to and index. It would make a worthy addition to any interested party's bookshelf and at 320 (hardback) its a steal.' Open History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2005
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521842327
    • length: 448 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 25 mm
    • weight: 1.12kg
    • contains: 48 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'I must have a pair of Damasked spurs': shopping in seventeenth-century London
    2. 'We may as well be silk-masters as sheep-masters': transferring technology in seventeenth-century England
    3. 'What do you lack? What isn't you buy?': creating new wants
    4. 'Anything that is strange': from rarities to luxury goods
    5. 'Examine but my humors in buildings, gardening, and private expenses': cultural exchange and the new built environment
    6. 'The pictures I desire to have … must be exquisitely done and by the best masters': luxury and war:
    7. 'Rome's artists in this nature can do no more': a Bernini in Chelsea
    8. 'The largest, best built, and richest city in the world': The Royal Society, luxury manufactures, and aristocratic identity
    9. New wants, new wares: luxury consumption, cultural change, and economic transformation.

  • Author

    Linda Levy Peck, George Washington University, Washington DC
    Linda Levy Peck is Columbian Professor of History at the George Washington University. She has published extensively on politics, society, and culture in seventeenth-century England. She is the author of Court Patronage and Corruption in Early Stuart England (1990) and the editor of The Mental World of the Jacobean Court (1991).

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