"Family Fortunes is a major groundbreaking study that will become a classic in its field. I was fascinated by the information it provided and the argument it established about the role of gender in the construction of middle-class values, family life, and property relations.
"The book explores how the middle class constructed its own institutions, material culture and values during the industrial revolution, looking at two settings—urban manufacturing Birmingham and rural Essex—both centers of active capitalist development. The use of sources is dazzling: family business records, architectural designs, diaries, wills and trusts, newspapers, prescriptive literature, sermons, manuscript census tracts, the papers of philanthropic societies, popular fiction, and poetry.
"Family Fortunes occupies a place beside Mary Ryan's The Cradle of the Middle Class and Suzanne Lebsock's Free Women of Petersburg. It provides scholars with a definitive study of the middle class in England, and facilitates a comparative perspective on the history of middle-class women, property, and the family."—Judith Walkowitz, Johns Hopkins University