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Judging New WealthPopular Publishing and Responses to Commerce in England, 1750–1800$
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James Raven

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202370.001.0001

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Defending Trade in the Provinces: The Gentleman Merchant and Mrs Gomersall of Leeds

Defending Trade in the Provinces: The Gentleman Merchant and Mrs Gomersall of Leeds

(p.112) 6 Defending Trade in the Provinces: The Gentleman Merchant and Mrs Gomersall of Leeds
Judging New Wealth

James Raven

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the attitudes towards business and businessmen in the town of Leeds, with particular attention to the works of Anna Gomersall. Mrs Gomersall published three didactic works: Eleonora in 1789, The Citizen in 1790, and The Disappointed Heir in 1796. All were a defence of the merchant and the values of commerce. In each book the author fought a rearguard action against what she saw as rising anti-business prejudice. She explained the necessity of encouraging commerce in the locality, but was also deeply troubled by the work of fellow authors and magazine contributors whom she regarded as responsible for unwarranted disparagement of trade. What is striking about Mrs Gomersall's work is not only that she devotes so many pages to considering the characters of local tradesmen, but that she explicitly differentiates between types of businessmen and their respective social and moral worth. Mrs Gomersall's characterizations were accepted, especially in London, as accurate representations of northern merchants and manufacturers. The authoress received high praise from the critical reviewers for her realistic portrayals of characters associated with trade.

Keywords:   merchants, tradesmen, Anna Gomersall, businessmen, Leeds

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