A Lady of Cotton by David Sekers

A Lady of Cotton by David Sekers – Hannah Greg, Mistress of Quarry Bank Mill – is such a wonderful biography. Sekers was a director of Quarry Bank Museum, which is a must-see in north of England, near Manchester. The mill still stands and still produces cotton (see the details about the picture). The family home and the Apprentices’ House are still standing and open for visitors too.

A Lady of Cotton by David Sekers

She was the wife of Samuel Greg, a mill owner, who also inherited a plantation. They employed children as young as 9. They were also compassionate and caring, and for the children in the mill life was better relative to how it was in other mills or in the workhouses, which was, unfortunately, the only options these children had.

Hannah (née Lightbody) was a very well-educated and intelligent woman. Her upbringing was unusual and she was reading classics, something that was highly undesirable for women at that time. This meant she had some problems when she got married as she lacked the necessary skills to keep up with her new role.

She was involved in the everyday life of the mill, by caring for the mill workers. She improved the education, health, and welfare of the paupers at the mill. Hannah cared for the sick children, preparing medicine, talking with the doctor about their treatment, she was teaching both boys and girls how to write and read. Besides this she was also involved in the community.

It was interesting to read about them and why they decided to live in a small house (by factory-owner standards) just beside the mill. The life of her children is presented too. I liked the lack of judging and also the lack of glossing over difficult subjects. It is a biography well worth reading, both because Hannah was such an interesting woman, but also because it sheds a light into the lives of industrious Victorians.

A Lady of Cotton by David Sekers

Details about the picture: the background is a piece of cotton fabric bought from Quarry Bank Mill. It is made on the old Victorian machinery, which is still functioning today, for visitors to get a feel of how it was to work in the mill
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: The History Press
Year it was published: 2013
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Biography
Pages: 280

About the author: David Sekers was a director of Quarry Bank Museum. He wrote about the Mill and Potteries. A Lady of Cotton is the first biography of Hannah Greg, Mistress of Quarry Bank Mill. Furthermore, Sekers edited Hannah’s diary written largely before her marriage – published as The Diary of Hannah Lightbody 1786-1790.
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4 thoughts on “A Lady of Cotton by David Sekers”

  • I am not generally a fan of biographies, however when they have a strong historical context, I am generally likely to find them interesting … I also enjoy visiting ‘working’ museums, so Quarry Bank Mill sounds really interesting, especially as it is also a National Trust property, of which we have been long-standing members…Another one of those journeys ‘up north’ we need to make when we are fully retired, but meanwhile a definite book for my ‘wish list’… Thanks for sharing and enjoy your Sunday! 🙂
    Yvonne (@Fiction_Books) recently posted…Madame Burovaby Ruth HoganReviewMy Profile

    • If you take a holiday up here you will have so many places to go to. There are a few fantastic NT properties, besides other museums, well worth spending a week or two. Quarry Bank Mill is a big place, it takes half of day to visit it properly, but it is worth it.
      Have a lovely week xx

  • She sounds like a remarkable woman, well ahead of her time. I like your comment about lack of judging. By today’s standards it seems horrible, but that’s how things were and we can’t change that. How neat that your cloth in the photo came from that mill!
    Kelly recently posted…The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. SayersMy Profile

    • The mill is so interesting to visit, I’ve been there many times and I like it a lot. It was lovely to be able to read about her and I would like to read about Samuel too, but there is no biography of his.

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