​Shopgirls Book Published by Hutchinson

Shopgirls: The True Story Of Life Behind The Counter

24 June 2014 Hutchinson Hardback £16.99

Written by the presenter and producer of the BBC television series, SHOPGIRLS

The true story of the women behind the counters of Britain’s most famous – and not so famous – stores.

From the Victorian age through to the present day, an unsung army of shopgirls has been at the heart of Britain’s retail – and social – revolution. Here, their story has been researched and brought to life for the first time by historian Pamela Cox, and writer and producer Annabel Hobley.

SHOPGIRLS is published to coincide with the three-part television series on BBC Two of the same name.

This lively and original book will change the way we look at these truly pioneering women; at our most successful department stores; and at shopping itself. It shows how the story of British shopgirls is one woven deep into the fabric of our history, and reveals their vital and often groundbreaking roles across the decades.

We meet Selfridges’ ‘business-women’ as they fight to maintain their good name and arsonist suffragette Gladys Evans who was jailed for standing up for her beliefs; we join Margaret Bondfield as she goes undercover fiercely championing the rights of early shopgirls; and stand alongside the impoverished interwar chain store assistants who stole stockings to supplement their meagre wages. We encounter young apprentices, the first generation of female graduate trainees and 1940s working mums. We follow Chili Bouchier’s journey from the small ladies’ department at Harrods to become the star of the silver screen; uncover the raw courage of John Lewis’s Miss Austin during the Blitz in the West End; and celebrate the art school entrepreneurs who kick-started the boutique movement of the swinging ’60s.

SHOPGIRLS features fascinating real-life stories of women through the modern ages, as well as archive testimony that has been little seen before now, exploring what life was really like working, and in some cases living, inside the shops and departments stores of the time. It is the perfect read for fans of history and nostalgia, as well as Lindy Woodhead’s Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge and the BBC drama series, The Paradise.

PAMELA COX is a social historian at the University of Essex. She has presented two major history series for BBC TWO – Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter (2014) and Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs (2012), both produced by Annabel Hobley for betty. Her previous books include Bad Girls (2012) and Becoming Delinquent (2002).

ANNABEL HOBLEY is a television producer and writer. Her credits for the BBC, ITV and More4 include Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter; Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs; McQueen & I, a documentary on fashion icons Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow; and The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon, about an extraordinary treasure trove of Edwardian films.