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Fabric: The Hidden History of the Material World

Victoria Finlay

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Textile design & theory

Victoria Finlay spins us round the globe, weaving stories of our relationship with cloth and completing the trilogy of books which began with her first bestseller Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox.

How is a handmade fabric helping save an ancient forest?
Why is a famous fabric pattern from India best known by the name of a Scottish town?
How is a Chinese dragon robe a diagram of the whole universe?
What is the difference between how the Greek Fates and the Viking Norns used threads to tell our destiny?

In Fabric, bestselling author Victoria Finlay spins us round the globe, weaving stories of our relationship with cloth and asking how and why people through the ages have made it, worn it, invented it and made symbols out of it. And sometimes why they have fought for it.

She beats the inner bark of trees into cloth in Papua New Guinea, fails to handspin cotton in Guatemala, visits tweed weavers at their homes in Harris, and has lessons in patchwork-making in Gee's Bend, Alabama - where in the 1930s, deprived of almost everything they owned, a community of women turned quilting into an art form.

She began her research just after the deaths of both her parents - and entwined in the threads she found her personal story too. The book became her journey through grief and recovery. It is her own patchwork.

'Subtle, compendious and rich ... an emotive and serious work of what you might call history on the distaff side' - James McConnachie, The Sunday Times

'Dazzling ... Finlay's adventures, vividly recounted, make enthralling reading ... This book is equally an inspiration and an education' - Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

'I am wildly impressed by the depth of her research and the stories she finds' - Alexandra Shulman, author of Clothes... And Other Things That Matter

(P)2022 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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Victoria Finlay

Victoria Finlay worked as a journalist in Hong Kong for eleven years, five of which were spent as arts editor for the South China Morning Post. Colour was her first book; since then she has also written Jewels: A Secret History, A Brilliant History of Color in Art, and Fabric: The Hidden History of the Material World. She studied social anthropology and as well as travelling around the world in search of stories about her subjects, from pigments to jewels to art to fabric, has also worked for an international environment charity. She lives near Bath.

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