Fabric (Hardback)

The Hidden History of the Material World

Victoria Finlay

A magnificent work of original research, unwinding history through cloth - how we make it, use it and what it means to us

'Poetically profound' - Sheila Hicks

'Enthralling and sumptuously spun' - Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

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.

Publication date: 11/11/2021

£25.00

ISBN: 9781781257067

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Arts, Language & Literature, History & Classics

Fabric (Ebook)

The Hidden History of the Material World

Victoria Finlay

Preorder from

A magnificent work of original research, unwinding history through cloth - how we make it, use it and what it means to us

'Poetically profound' - Sheila Hicks

'Enthralling and sumptuously spun' - Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

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.

Publication date: 11/11/2021

£10.99

ISBN: 9781782832850

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B01N364UX5

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Arts, Language & Literature, History & Classics

Reviews for Fabric

'Poetically profound'

Sheila Hicks 

'I am wildly impressed by the depth of her research and the stories she finds'

Alexandra Shulman 

'Enthralling and sumptuously spun narrative history of how and why people around the world have made, used and worn different kinds of fabric. Beginning her research shortly after the death of her parents, Finlay finds her own story of love and grief entwined in the threads too, making for a fine blend indeed'

Caroline Sanderson, Non-Fiction Editor's Choice for November The Bookseller

'Fabrics can be a clue to what is underneath the surface. The word "clue" itself comes from the Greek name for a ball of yarn that can be wound back to show the right path. The stories of fabrics, the histories of them, are about endeavour and work and secrets and feuds and inventions and abuse and beauty and ugliness, and sometimes they are about tenderness. '

Victoria Finlay 

'Praise for Victoria Finlay'

- 

'Her curiosity is inexhaustible, her reading wide, and her writing style a delight'

 Sunday Telegraph

'A highly companionable guide, adventurous and romantic'

 Independent on Sunday

'This is a rare and wonderful book - a model of erudition and charm, the writing elegant and precise, and with at least one new and fascinating revelation on every single page.'

Simon Winchester 

Victoria Finlay

Victoria Finlay

Victoria Finlay is the critically acclaimed author of Colour – Travels Through the Paintbox and the former arts editor of the South China Morning Post. She studied social anthropology and has travelled around the world in search of stories about her subjects, from colour to jewels and fabric. As well as writing, she has worked in international development.