History Knitting Textile Arts

“Authoress and Designer”

I’m wondering if I have found the UK’s first ever fabulous person who, self-described as “Designer” on a Census?

It’s fun to go hunting well known 19thC  knitting manual writers, on Censuses. Whether it is 1841 or 1881, you often find them as “Berlin Wool Dealer”, or next to an occupation described as “Berlin Wool Shop”, or maybe on census night they were out visiting relatives/friends and can be found in some obscure place as  “Visitor” or simply left blank as if they are unemployed layabouts, “Wife”, mere appendages to husbands who are merchants, goldsmiths, whatever…

But my favourite Census find is the French-born Mlle. Elanore Riego de la Branchardiere. Which is so ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ a name, I had always assumed it was the fancy pen name of say, Sally Smith from Croydon.

Imagine the excitement to find her on New Bond St in 1851, at a rather grand address. She is having none of this nonsense about being a mere wool dealer, either.

You can find Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere’s books here.  


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