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Tabitha Baker

About me

I am currently an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study. My doctoral thesis, supervised jointly by Professor Giorgio Riello at the University of Warwick and Professor Lesley Miller at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is entitled 'The Embroidery Trade in Eighteenth-Century Paris and Lyon'.

My Research

My research project, an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Award, examines the professional embroidery trade of eighteenth-century France within the broader socio-economic context of consumption, retailing and production. It investigates how consumer demand for fashionable embroidered clothing changed over time and the effects this had on the retailing and production of embroidery. My thesis argues that embroidery was a highly flexible luxury product which evolved to meet the complicated consumer demand of heterogeneous European elites. Embroidery makes for a useful case study of an ancillary trade of the luxury market which did not require sophisticated machinery or large capital investment, and major technological change during the century.

Investigating the products, skills and networks of the embroiderers of eighteenth-century Paris and Lyon provides a pertinent insight into how techniques of embroidery changed over time, how the trade functioned in different cities, and the nature of the professional embroiderers’ client base. A close analysis of exactly how embroidery was consumed during the eighteenth century, and the effects this consumption had on the structure of the French embroidery trade will contribute to a greater understanding of the relationship between elite consumption and the French luxury trades during this period.

Research Interests

  • The urban luxury trades in early modern France
  • Eighteenth-century elite and court consumption
  • Guild history
  • Artisan culture
  • Eighteenth-century material culture
  • Fashion, dress and textile history

Academic Background

2015-2019 University of Warwick, PhD History

2012-2013 University of Warwick, MA for Research in French and Francophone Studies

2008-2012 University of Warwick, BA (Hons) English and French 

Funding and Awards

  • Economic History Society PhD Bursary, 2018-19.
  • Society for French Studies Research Support Grant, 2018.
  • Economic History Society Annual Conference Bursary, 2018.
  • Society for the Study of French History Research Grant, 2017.
  • Royal Historical Society Research Grant Award, 2017.
  • British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies/Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment Travel Award, 2017.
  • Warwick CADRE Peer Development Exchange Bursary, 2017.
  • AHRC PhD Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Award, 2015-18.
  • University of Warwick, Department of French Studies MA Bursary, 2012-13.


  • Early Career Fellowship 2019-20, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick.
  • Research Fellowship (Dissertation) 2017-18, Winterthur Museum & Library, Delaware, USA.


Association of Dress Historians

British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Economic History Society

Royal Historical Society

Society for French Studies

Society for the Study of French History

Conference and Workshop Presentations

  • "Embroidered Masculinities: Male Consumption and Female Labour in the Embroidery Trade of Eighteenth-Century France" at Gender, Labour and Consumption in Historical Perspective, University of Essex (13 - 14 September 2019).
  • "False Workers, Real Skill: Knowledge Production in the Embroidery Trade of Eighteenth-Century France" at Uncovering Material Knowledge, Queen's University Belfast (30 - 31 August 2019).
  • "‘I have sent to Paris for a velvet to be embroidered’: International Networks of Supply and Demand in the Eighteenth-Century French Embroidery Trade" at Postgraduate History Conference, University of Warwick (1 June 2018).
  • "‘I had no time at all in the noisy whirlwind of Paris to tell you of the successful carrying out of your orders’: Supplying Consumer Demand for Embroidery in Eighteenth-Century France" at Economic History Society Annual Conference, Keele University (6-8 April 2018).
  • "Re-assessing Women’s Work: Evidence from the Professional Embroidery Trade of Eighteenth-Century France" at Journées d’étude du programme ANR TIME-US, Maison méditerranéenne des sciences de l’homme Aix-en-Provence (20 - 21 October 2017).
  • “From Lyon and Paris to London: Commercial Networks within the French Embroidery Trade and the Role of the English Gentleman Consumer (1748-1785)” at Moving Beyond Paris and London: Influences, Circulation, and Rivalries in Fashion and Textiles between France and England, 1700-1914, Université Paris Diderot (13 - 14 October 2017).
  • "European Commercial Networks in the French Embroidery Trade: The Case of a Lyonnais Embroidery Merchant (1746-1782)" at Society for the Study of French History 31st Annual Conference, University of Strathclyde (26 - 27 June 2017).
  • “Discovering the Embroiderers of Eighteenth-Century France: The Material Afterlife of a Luxury Trade” at Eighteenth-Century Worlds Postgraduate Workshop, University of Liverpool (9 June 2017).
  • "Joubert and Saint-Aubin: Translating the Textile Trades" at Design in Translation: Joubert de l'Hiberderie and 'Le Dessinateur', Victoria and Albert Museum (December 2015).
  • "Julie’s Garden and the Impartial Spectator: An Examination of Smithean Themes in Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Héloïse" at Themes from Smith and Rousseau, University of Glasgow (July 2015).


Book Chapters

  • Baker, Tabitha, "Julie's Garden and the Impartial Spectator: An Examination of Smithean Themes in Rousseau's La Nouvelle Héloïse" in Maria Pia Paganelli, Dennis C. Rasmussen and Craig Smith (eds), Adam Smith and Rousseau: Ethics, Politics, Economics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 143-165.

Book Reviews

  • Baker, Tabitha, “Review of Johanna Ilmakunnas and Jon Stobart (eds) A Taste for Luxury in Early Modern Europe: Display, Acquisition and Boundaries (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)” in European History Quarterly, 48/2 (April 2018), 366-368.
  • Baker, Tabitha, “Review of Antoine Hatzenberger (ed.) Utopies des Lumières (Lyon: ENS Éditions, 2010)” in Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 37 (December 2014), 581-582.

Conference Proceedings

  • Baker, Tabitha, “‘I had no time at all in the noisy whirlwind of Paris to tell you of the successful carrying out of your orders’: Supplying Consumer Demand for Embroidery in Eighteenth-Century France” in The Economic History Society Annual Conference Programme, Keele University, 6-8 April, pp. 141-145.

Public Engagement

Professional Development

  • Economic History Society Residential Training Course (29 November - 2 December 2017)
  • Innovation in the Pre-Modern World Workshop, University of Warwick (24 February 2017)
  • AHRC-CDP Training: Making Galleries and Exhibitions, National Maritime Museum and British Museum (22 - 23 February 2017)
  • Materiality and the Global Warwick-Basel Video Workshop, University of Warwick (2 February 2017)
  • Research and Teaching in French History Workshop, Institute of Historical Research (27 January 2017)
  • AHRC-CDP Training: Using Archives, British Library (18 March 2016)
  • AHRC-CDP Training: Challenging Histories, National Maritime Museum (8 December 2015)
  • Open Access Publishing, University of Warwick (2 December 2015)


  • 2017/18: Seminar Tutor for Artefacts in Context: Social Histories of Design, 1600-1850 (core module for V&A/RCA History of Design MA students)
  • 2017/18: Seminar Tutor for HI203: The European World, 1500-1750 (core module for second-year undergraduate History students, University of Warwick)
  • 4 May 2017: Peer Development Exchange Workshop - Material Culture: An introduction to incorporating objects into your research, University of Warwick
  • 2016/17: Academic Advisor for the Warwick International Foundation Programme



Tabitha Baker

T dot Baker at warwick dot ac dot uk profile