Practical Instructions in Gardening for Ladies, published in 1841, which proved to be magnificently timely. It was the first book of any type ever to encourage women of elevated classes to get their hands dirty and even to take on a faint glow of perspiration. This was novel almost to the point of eroticism. Gardening for Ladies bravely insisted that women could manage gardening independent of male supervision if they simply observed a few sensible precautions—working steadily but not too vigorously, using only light tools, never standing on damp ground because of the unhealthful emanations that would rise up through their skirts. The book appeared to assume that the reader had scarcely ever been outdoors, much less laid hands on a gardening tool. Here, for instance, is Mrs. Loudon explaining what a spade does: In 1841, middle-class women everywhere were bored out of their skulls by the rigidities of life and grateful for any suggestion of diversion. Gardening for Ladies remained lucratively in print for the rest of the century. Bryson, Bill. At Home (p. 386). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Bryson, Bill. At Home (p. 385). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


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