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Sarah Birt

Contact details

Twitter @SarahBirt


Title of thesis

  • A Fashionable Business: Mantuamakers, Milliners and Seamstresses in London c. 1670 – 1770
  • My project explores the agency of women engaged in business in London with particular reference to female apprentices and freemen in numerous livery companies and a comprehensive study of the three occupational identities of mantua-maker, milliner and seamstress.


Research interests

  • I am primarily interested in the social, economic and cultural contributions made by women in early modern England and have previously focused on the work of female artists, particularly the portraitist Mary Beale, placing her life and work in context with her seventeenth-century contemporaries.

Papers given

  • ‘Hidden talents: revealing evidence of women’s creative work and apprenticeships in early modern London’, Invisible Hands: Reassessing the History of Work, University of Glasgow, 16 – 18 May 2018
  • Organiser & chair: Clothing the Renaissance, London Renaissance Seminar, Birkbeck, University of London, 20 January 2018
  • ‘Creative Women’s Work: Exploring Skill and Occupational Identities in Early Modern England’, Fashioning Dress: Sewing and Skill, 1500 – 1850, University of Warwick, 19 May 2017
  • ‘Creative Work: An Introduction’, Artists and Artisans: Creative Work in Early Modern England, London Renaissance Seminar, Birkbeck, University of London, 13 May 2017
  • Mary Beale 1633 - 1699, The Landscape of Occupations in Pre-Industrial Britain and Continental Europe c.1400-1750, University of Exeter, 2014
  • Vice & Virtue: Reputations of Working Women in Early Modern London, Birkbeck Early Modern Society Annual Conference, Birkbeck, 2014
  • Mary Beale in Context, Staff Research Seminar, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2013

Grants, prizes, honours and awards

  • The Mercers' Company Studentship for Doctoral Research on the History of London 2016 - 2019