‘Wearing the Breeches’? Almack’s, the female patroness, and public femininity c.1764-1848

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Almack’s, a mixed-sex establishment run by a group of female patronesses was a popular meeting place for the aristocracy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Yet, despite its contemporary appeal, the establishment has received little attention from historians. This article addresses this absence, exploring the varying, and often contentious, social, cultural and political functions and meanings the establishment held. Building on recent historiographical developments, this article demonstrates how certain aristocratic women were able to exercise power and influence at the heart of their class. In doing so, it considers the intersections between gender, urban space and political culture. It argues that the activities of the female patronesses was often highly contested, exposing the narrow, and often blurred, line between legitimate and illegitimate action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)822-839
Number of pages18
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number6
Early online date30 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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