The True Story of Life Behind the Counter

Pamela Cox, Annabel Hobley

Based on the BBC television series, Shopgirls is the true story of the incredible 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 have been at the heart of Britain’s retail revolution. Shopgirls reveals their enterprising and courageous stories as never before.

We meet Selfridges' ‘businesswomen’, fighting for their good name, and arsonist suffragette Gladys Evans, jailed for standing up for her beliefs; 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 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.

As this lively book reveals, the story of British shopgirls - and their spirited camaraderie - is one woven deep into the fabric of our history and changes the way we understand our society. You will never shop in the same way again.

For fans of social history and nostalgia, including readers of Lucy Lethbridge's Servants: A Downstairs View of Twentieth-Century Britain; Lindy Woodhead's Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge and Mollie Moran's Aprons and Silver Spoons.

  • Hutchinson
  • Published 24th June 2014
  • 320 Pages
  • 162mm x 240mm x 30mm
  • 580g
  • £16.99