Copyright 1996-2014 LISA
If you wish to contribute to this feature, please send all excerpts to us, including authors, publishers and dates of publication if possible.
Adaline Vénician, André Chamson -- A young girl requests her maid to tighten her laces even more. EXCERPT (And now translated into English!)
The Aloha Moon, Cheryl Carrol. EXCERPT
The American Diary of a Japanese Girl, Yoné Noguchi, 1901 EXCERPT
The Bag of Saffron, Bettina von Hutten, 1918 Sources: #1 #2
Miss Effie was a little
annoyed at her sister’s thus turning character-interpreter, a role
she regarded exclusively as her own.
“So she’s been confiding in you, has she?” she returned. “Did she also tell you why she didn’t pick up your spectacles last night after dinner ?”
“Why she didn’t pick up” began Miss Flora vaguely.
“Because she couldn’t” Miss Effie interrupted her in triumph that was tinged, as so much triumph is, with malice. “That frock was so tight she could hardly breathe. She dared not stoop!”
The Betrayal (A living Dead Girl Novel), Tamsin L. Silver BUY THE BOOK
Atlanta rushed into her bedroom and shut the door, her mind going a
hundred miles a minute. Jumping between what she should wear, to
what her dream meant. With a frustrated grunt, she tossed the towel
and pulled out her black corset, long black pencil skirt, heeled
lace-up boots and started to work herself into the outfit.
Grayson’s voice came through her door, “I woke her up. She cussed me out in two languages.”
Atlanta smiled. “We’ll call her back as we head out the door. Come in here and help me with this, will you?”
Grayson came in, a lit cigarette in his mouth. Atlanta noted he’d opted for a simple pair of black leather pants and a see through black shirt with sparkles that showed off his well-defined chest and abs nicely. As he sauntered in, Gray attached his choker behind his neck. “Corset time?”
“Yep.” She yanked the cig from him and took a drag, then spun to hold onto the tall bedpost, “Pull, girlfriend, pull.”
Grayson was used to this. Working the laces like a pro, he pulled her already hourglass figure into a more severe version and tied it off. “Can you breathe?”
“Then it’s not tight enough,” he joked and took his cig back.
“Ha ha. I’d like to breathe thank you very much. Passing out on the dance floor is so last season.”
“Breathing is overrated. You look hot though.”
Atlanta turned to inspect herself in the door size mirrors on the closet. Her already ample cleavage now heaved out the top of the corset. Tucking it back in just enough so they didn’t resemble chin rests, she noted her new boots had her normal five foot ten stature now over six foot, making her an inch or two taller than Grayson. “It works. You ready?”
Bluebonnet Belle, Lori Copeland Source
Turning slowly, she glanced down, perusing the cut
of the dress. The jacket was fastened atop a full overskirt. The buirasse
[sic] bodice was tight and molded to the hips -
an effect, if the look in Henry’s eyes was any indication, he appreciated.
Tugging at the close-fitting waist, she wished she could wear the style
without a long, tight corset. It was a good thing her job required her to stand,
she couldn’t have hoped
to sit with any semblance of grace.
Belle Brittan On a Tour, Hiram Fuller, 1857 Source
of the week is the notorious "Woodman case"; and pray, consider me
blushing up to my very eyebrows while alluding to so scandalous
an affair. Mrs. Caroline Woodman, as all the world is learning, is the wife of a New-Orleans druggist, and being the daughter of a fashionable dress-maker, passed for a fashionable lady. I remember seeing her at Saratoga and Newport two or three years ago, with her thirty trunks, and a new dinner-dress for every day during "the season." She was pointed at by the gossips for her remarkably small waist, or, as was said, for "being laced within an inch of her life," no one at that time suspecting her guilty of "loose habits."
1930, Boston MA, The Stratford Company
-- The story of the arrival of European immigrants in northwestern
Iowa, particularly that of an Irish farming family who faces the challenges of
settling the area. The title refers to the farmland of this area.
EXCERPTS BUY THE BOOK ELECTRONIC TEXT
Bleak House, Charles Dickens, 1853 Available on Project Gutenberg EXCERPTS
Blue Moon (a/k/a "The Adventures of Julian Robinson", Victorian Library -- A Victorian governess applies petticoat discipline to an unruly boy in England. Corsets are the main stay (sic) but in the latter part of the book, there is a shopping trip to London in which Julian is outfitted in corset, petticoats and dresses. BUY THE BOOK
Boyhood, Leo Tolstoy, 1854
Likewise, Lubotshka was continually at loggerheads with Mimi because the latter wanted her to have her stays so tight that she could not breathe or eat or drink in comfort, while Katenka, on the contrary, would often insert her finger into her waistband to show how loose it was, and always ate very little.
Breakthroughs, Harry Turtledove --
Carolina woman's corset is mentioned. She is having herself measured for
trousers so she can hunt down the socialist revolutionaries who burned down her
plantation, and were then hiding in a nearby swamp. The scene is small, only
about half a page.
Bring on the Empty Horses, David Niven, 1975, Hamish Hamilton (UK) EXCERPT
Corolla, Aimée Parkison.
Her narrator reminisces about her Aunt Joan, a
beautiful, glamorous and sexy woman. The period is unclear, but Aunt
Joan was clearly well corseted:
From her bedroom window, I watched the men, the metal lighters glaring in their fumbling hands while Joan rummaged through her twin closets. She glanced over a series of red dresses, satin, lace, and dyed muslin. Even though she was an attractive woman and no one was wearing corsets anymore, Aunt Joan had never given up the corsets her mother taught her to wear when she was a young girl. She tightened her beige corset by tying the straps to the bedposts and leaning down toward the floor, straining and sucking in air until the straps pulled tight as the silvered strings on Dougy’s guitar. Her waist was so tiny then, I wondered how she could eat. Her back was so stiff she couldn’t turn all the way around to look at herself in the mirror, but she was beautiful from any angle. Her figure was the perfect hourglass I longed for. Under her corsets, her ribs were gradually deformed, small as a child’s, turning in on themselves in the years since her girlhood.
There are other, more passing references, especially to Aunt Joan's figure being permanently altered by long-term tight-lacing. The tone is rather negative, but it's there. ARCHIVED ON LINE
A Contemporary Account of Life as a Fashion Model in a Parisian Couture House,1903 ARCHIVED ON LINE EXCERPT
The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber, 2003, Canongate EXCERPT
The following sentence is contained in an old book review of these novel, which sounds like it contains a well-written 'lacing' scene: 'Readers will feel the whalebone stays digging into Sabrina's sides as her mother laces her to fit a too-tight gown.'
The Corset Dairies, Katie MacAlister, Onyx Books, 2004 EXCERPT
"...a romantic novel about a woman who find love on the set of a 'reality' TV show in which she takes the role of a wealthy Victorian lady (the story is evidently inspired by real TV shows like The 1900 House and The Edwardian Country House). As the title suggests, the heroine and narrator of the story spends most of her time in a tight-laced corset. There is a 'lacing scene' and various (mainly negative) references to her inability to breathe, eat or bend while wearing it, though she also has some positive things to say about her new appearance." Charles S.
A Day in the Life of a Victorian Servant, Leonore Davidoff, 1976, Allen & Unwin EXCERPT
Daughter of Fortune, Isabel Allende, 2008, Harper EXCERPTS
A Death at the Rose Paperworks, M. J. Zellnik, Miriam Zellnik, 2006 Llewellyn Publications BUY THE BOOK
(page 7) Adele Rose was a rather haughty woman, with the look of a pampered lapdog. She was soft and pink and rounded at every extremity. It took all of Libby’s ingenuity, not to mention the sturdiest whalebone corset available from Sears & Roebuck, to bring Mrs Rose anywhere near to the fashionable ideal.
The Edwardians, Vita Sackville-West, 1930, Virago -- dressing scene to stop the heart! (Set in 1905) EXCERPT
Emma Maybe, (Illustrated fiction, 4th in the 'Manga Emma' series), Kaoru Mori, 2007 -- features a couple of very nice lacing scenes
Emma the Slavey Makes Good In Vaudeville, Helen Green, from At the Actors’ Boarding House and Other Stories, 1906 Source
The next night at dinner Mr. McDuff,
when he had spotted Emma, whistled softly in astonishment. She sported a red
ribbon about her neck, and a clean gown. And where once none had known where her
waist began or left off, Emma's form showed a certain smart curving in at the
waist line, which only a straight front corset could produce.
Her Sunday stays would not permit of the absolute freedom of movement which Mr. McDuff called “sloppy,” but she was repaid for this by the approving glance which the “fair man”—he had light hair, and it needed cutting—cast in the direction of the waist.
The Emu’s Head: A Chronicle of Dead Man’s Flat, W. Carlton Dawe, 1893, London, Ward & Downey ARCHIVED ON LINE EXCERPTS
Falling in Love,
Amateur romantic fiction. Our heroine is tightly corseted so that she can wear a designer dress for a posh party, and is a tremendous social success. SOURCE EXCERPT
The Fat and the Thin,
Émile Zola ARCHIVED ON LINE
The Finger, Linda Blayblock, 1968 -- wonderful fetishistic description EXCERPT
The Game is Afoot, Roberta Rogow, 2005
Stephen K.: From Amazon, a review of this novel set among the American fashionable elite in the 1870s. The professional reviews are a bit contemptuous, but the one reader who has left a comment enjoyed it, and also mentions something you might also appreciate:
When one of the young ladies, determined to outdo Nina De Bonnard in smashing appearance, appears wearing her corset laced to such a punishing degree that she faints--the women are shocked by her lack of protocol. One of them, known as the arbiter of taste, exclaims, "We're causing comment on the promenade!" and the young woman is quickly removed to the Ladies' Comfort Station, where the torturous corset is unlaced so she can breathe again.
The Greenwood Legacy, by Jacquelyn Cook EXCERPT PURCHASE BOOK
Here Comes the Bride, Pamela Morsi (public domain - republished, 2000 by Avon) EXCERPTS
The Hidden Goddess, M.K. Hobson, Spectra/Bantam, 2011
Emily stood like a mannequin in alace-trimmed chemise and petticoats while the women bustled about her, drawing tight the corset lacings until her waist had been compressed to the
Highland Fling, Tess Mallory, 2003, Lovespell The reviewer doesn't seem to think much of the book, but it evidently contains references to tight-lacing:
Histoire comique, Anatole France, 1903 Translated as A Mummer's Tale , 1921 EXCERPT
The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, Henry Fielding, 1742 Source
Fanny was now in the nineteenth year of her age ; she was tall and delicately shaped ; but not one of those slender young women who seem rather intended to hang up in the hall of an anatomist than for any other purpose. On the contrary, she was so plump that she seemed bursting through her tight stays, especially in the part which confined her swelling breasts. Nor did her hips want the assistance of a hoop to extend them. The exact shape of her arms denoted the form of those limbs which she concealed ; and though they were a little reddened by her labour, yet, if her sleeve slipped above her elbow, or her handkerchief discovered any part of her neck, a whiteness appeared which the finest Italian paint would be unable to reach. Her hair was of a chestnut brown, and nature had been extremely lavish to her of it, which she had cut, and on Sundays used to curl down her neck, in the modern fashion. Her forehead was high, her eyebrows arched, and rather full than otherwise. Her eyes black and sparkling ; her nose just inclining to the Roman ; her lips red and moist, and her underlip, according to the opinion of the ladies, too pouting.
The Honored Dead, Robert N Macomb, 2009, Pineapple Press -- "Marston was a woman of indeterminate upper middle age, whose ample girth was corseted into a positively painful-looking hourglass figure. My back hurt just to see it. She was dressed in blue satin right up to her neck, with a bustle that inadequately balanced an inordinately large bosom. Above a glittering diamond choker and matching earrings—I would assume false due to their size—she had long, blonde hair done up in a black, silk-netted bun that appeared, like her corset, about to burst." BUY THE BOOK
Iole, Robert W. Chambers (1905) FULL TEXT EXCERPT
Jaffrey, William J Locke, New York, 1915 Available on Project Gutenberg EXCERPT
Janine, Alasdair Gray, 1982, Canongate -- a wonderful description of the application of corsetry in B&D context EXCERPT
A Jilt’s Journal, 1901, ‘Rita’ EXCERPT
Journey to the River Sea,
Macmillan Children's Books (UK) 2001
BUY THE BOOK
The hair-raising, heart-warming adventures of Maia and her tight-lipped (and tight-corseted) governess
Kernow and Daughter, Malcolm Ross-Macdonald, St. Martin's Press (NY) 1996 and Headline Book Publishing (UK) 1995 EXCERPT
'King Lehr' and the Gilded Age, Elizabeth Beresford, 1935 ARCHIVED ON LINE
How well I remember the mornings on the sun-bathed piazza of The United States Hotel watching the fashion parade. The women in their latest dresses imported from Paris, skin-tight bodices, skirts of yards and yards of shining silk looped over enormous bustles that swayed as they walked slowly up and down, their waists squeezed into twenty-inch stays, their feet encased in boots at least a size too small for them, their hands buttoned into hot kid gloves.
Lawman, Lisa Plumley, 1999, Zebra EXCERPT
Life of Mrs Elizabeth Carter, Pennington, quoted in The European Magazine, volume LIII, May 1808 Source
[A letter from Mrs Carter
to Miss Talbot, sent from Spa, 14th July 1763]
I have seen Princess Ferdinand [of Brunswick] and her suite at the room and at their walks; and a most extraordinary sight they are: they are laced within an inch of their lives, their stays excessively stiff, and their stomachers of an amazing length, nearly approaching to their chins.
Light and Darkness, Catherine Crow, 1850
Stephen K.: The authoress rather rudely describes a tightly laced fashionable beauty. I did not think of 1850 as a time when extreme corseting was yet the rage, so of course I am pleased to find a contemporary account of it so early. Whatever the writer may have thought, I would have liked to meet Miss Graves!"
Miss Graves was evidently a young lady made up for sale; her waist was contracted to the smallest span ; she was dressed in the height of the fashion; she held her head very high, and her gait was something between awriggle and a twist, which arose partly from tight stays, and partly from the perpetual consciousness of herself and her figure, which she had been persuaded was very fine, and she believed every eye was fixed upon her when she moved. She was insipidly fair, with very light hair, and white eyelashes; her features were heavy, and her face destitute of expression; but on the credit of this exceeding fairness she set up for a beauty, and her mother was satisfied that she was one. Of course, she was extremely accomplished, doing a little of everything, without having the slightest genius, taste, or feeling for anything.
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Scholastic Books, 1932 -- children's tale from the late nineteenth century EXCERPT
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, 1857-- short one-liner--but sweet!
A Masque of Poets, John Townsend Trowbridge, Boston, 1878 EXCERPT ARCHIVED ON LINE
The Memoirs of Maria Stella
(Lady Newborough), Maria
Stella Petronilla Chiappini Ungern-Sternber (originally published in French -
this English translation published 1914): ARCHIVED ON LINE
Nature had given me a good figure; nevertheless, my father maintained that I stooped, that one of my shoulders was higher than the other, and that my feet grew large too quickly. To remedy these imaginary defects he made me wear an iron collar, which was taken off only at meal-time, a steel corset that increased the torture and really made me deformed, and shoes so narrow and short that I could hardly walk. When I begged him to take off this painful apparatus, a box on the ear was his usual answer.
Menshikoff or The Peasant Prince, Alfred D'Aveline, 1890 EXCERPT ARCHIVED ON LINE
Mercy's Ransom, Sandra Leigh, Dragon’s Heart Romance (imprint), 2005 EXCERPT
The event of the day seemed to require a corset, a refinement
which she usually discarded. The unfortunate maid, whose duty it was
to lace her and to discover the exact point to which she was willing
to be drawn in, alone knew the terrors and storms of a corset day.
"I'd rather," said the girl, "lace the obelisk; I know it would lend itself to being laced better than she does; and, anyhow, it couldn't be bad-tongued."
Miriam Coffin (or 'The Whale Fisherman'), Joseph C. Hart, originally published in 1834 EXCERPT
Misterioso, Gilbert Sorrentino EXCERPT Buy the full book
Miss 318: A story in season and out of season, Rupert Hughes, 1911. New York. EXCERPTS
Moths, Ouida, 1880, reprinted 1947 in Novels of High Society from the Victorian Age (with an introduction by Anthony Powell). EXCERPT
The Moss People,
Louisa May Alcott --
“It’s time to dress, I suppose, for some one may call. Get
out my blue silk and lace head-dress, Dimity,” said Mrs. Prance, going up to her
chamber, too busy about her toilet to mind the baby, who was crying in the
“Lace me tightly. I’m growing stout, I do believe, and my figure will be ruined if I allow it,” said madam; and Dimity squeezed her into such a tight dress that Trip got a pain in her side directly. “I can bear it a little while, but I don’t see how ladies can do it all the time, — it’s dreadful!” she sighed, as Dimity piled her pretty hair in a fuzzy bunch on the top of her head, and hung jewels in her little ears, after putting costly bits of lace here and there, and poking her tiny feet into high-heeled boots that made her totter when she tried to walk. These and her train nearly tripped her up, for, if Dimity had not caught her, Mrs. Prance would have tumbled downstairs.
New Wives For Old, David Graham Phillips, 1908 EXCERPT FULL TEXT
The Old Chevalier, 'Isak Dinesen' (Karen Blixen)
Stephen K.: An extract from this long-short story, beautifully written. The Old Chevalier remembers undressing a charming young lady from her 1870s clothes. There are three paragraphs like this. Karen Blixen was not born until 1885, so perhaps she is recalling the reminiscences of some old gentleman who looked back on the days of bustle and corset as a golden age of femininity.
'Old Mrs.Harris', short story published in Obscure Destinies by Willa Cather, 1932 EXCERPT FULL TEXT
On the Back of the Other Side, Carn Tiernan, 2009 DESCRIPTION EXCERPTS
A Proper Affair, Victoria Malvey, 2001 EXCERPT
Pack of Lies, Gilbert Sorrentino, 1997 EXCERPT
Peck's Compendium of Fun, George W. Peck, Chicago, 1886 EXCERPT FULL TEXT
Princess Rusalka, Frank Wedekind, 1897 Source
And then he was sent here to Zurich on business. As we were sitting in the train a young girl entered. At first she sat in the opposite corner, but when she saw my lover she threw him a glance that made me shudder, and then she sat opposite to him. She said that she was engaged as a waitress. She was laced so tightly that I did not see how she could breathe. And she could not keep her feet still, and she kept fanning herself with a handkerchief that smelled like a menagerie. She exchanged looks with my lover that seemed to imply the most heavenly things, but I did not understand them. Once in a while she would look at me; but then I was ashamed to death. I had on a terribly faded dress, a gray shawl over my head, and I kept my feet curled up beneath me as there were big holes in my shoes. She wore brand new russet shoes with gilded buttons. Her dress was so tight that one could see the outlines of her knees. On her lap she had a box of candy and a bottle of plum brandy. She offered me some of it. I did not want to take any but my lover told me not to be bashful. Just before we reached Lindau, the engine came to a sudden stop, and she almost fell into his arms.
The Professional Widow: Corsetry with Love, Milton Glaze, 2013 EXCERPT COVER PURCHASE THE BOOK
G. B. Lancaster, 1938, Angus & Robertson Ltd., Sydney and London
The Harbour Board enclosed more of the grey mudflats preparatory to laying another street among the pervasive odours of drying and decaying refuse, and Belinda, who was to come out at the ball which everyone hoped would help the new Parliament to get properly on its feet, was laced so tightly by Caroline that her red cheeks paled and she fainted daily.
“Mamma says I'm to have no more milk or butter till I'm safely married,” sighed Linda, who loved her flesh-pots and plenty of fun and giggles. Darien, who couldn't really go off in an elegant flop yet though her waist was smaller than Linda's, was watching her recovery with critical eyes. It certainly did look a good way to a man's heart.
Pyramids, Terry Pratchett,
"Lady T'malia was stunningly beautiful, but with the kind of calculated beauty that is achieved by a team of skilled artists, manicurists, plasterer's, corsetiers and dressmakers and three hours' solid work every morning. When she walked there was a faint squeak of whalebone under incredible stress." ALSO: "She clasped her hand to her bosom. There was creak like a galleon beating against a gale."
Rebel Angels, Libba Bray, 2006
The Red Dress, Liza Alzamora, 1941 FULL SHORT STORY
Remembrance, Jude Deveraux, 1997 -- "The moment she awakens, she faints, due to the unfamiliar sensation of Lady de Grey's extremely tight corset."
Sanditon, Jane Austen (completed after her death by another) EXCERPT
School Life in Paris,
(Printed for the Erotica
Biblion Society of London and New York,
author[s] unattributed) 1899
EXCERPTS FULL WORK COVER
Seven Little Australians, Ethel Sybil Turner, 1912 EXCERPT
She Walks in Beauty,
The seventeen-year-old heroine, whose mother has died and whose figure and manners have been neglected, is taken in hand by a strict aunt and corseted tightly in preparation for her "coming out" into society. This is still available from Amazon, and I have provided a link to where your readers can buy it.
Skinwalker, Susan Fadler EXCERPT
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison, 1977 -- musings of a man on his lover's corsets
The Stone Canal, Ken Macleod, 1997, Legend Books EXCERPT
The Story of Cecilia, Katharine Tynan Hinkson, 1911, Benziger Brothers, New York
Downstairs Mrs. Patrick Grace was discussing Irene with Ciss. “She’s an ugly little thing, with that pasty face, and all eyes, isn’t she?” she said complacently. “Now, my girls have all complexions and figures; I make them have figures — till they’re married, at least. They can do what they like afterwards. Teresa and Eily will be finished next year. As soon as ever they come home, in they go to eighteen-inch stays. They hate it at first, but I tell them it’s for their good. You should see how Fan has spread since her marriage. And Minnie not far behind her. I tell them they’ll be like feather-beds tied in the middle by the time they’re thirty. But as Fan says, Michael can’t go back on her now. Fan lives in a dressing-gown from morning till night.”
Story of O, Pauline Réage, 1965 -- description of the corset and attire of a willingly subjugated woman EXCERPTS
The Strange Adventures of Charlotte Holmes, Sister of the More Famous Sherlock, by Hilary Bailey, Constable & Co., 1994 EXCERPTS
Swords of the Barbarians, Kenneth Bulmer, 1970 EXCERPTS
The Tea Rose, Jennifer Donnelly EXCERPT
To Be a Fine Lady, Elizabeth Jeffrey, 2000 EXCERPT
To Sail Beyond The Sunset, Robert A Heinlein, 1987, Michael Joseph (UK) -- 1988 Sphere Books (UK) EXCERPT
Tall in the Saddle, 2007, Bella Books -- An anthology of erotic Wild West stories for lesbians. 'You'll thrill as they reinvent the myths of the old West with a decidedly lesbian slam dunk, weaving tales of saloons, horses, bank robberies, sheriffs, cattle rustlers, guns and very tight corsets and loose women.'
The Three Cities Trilogy: Rome, Émile Zola EXCERPTS
Timar’s Two Worlds, Mór Jókai, translated 1894; originally published as Az arany ember ('The Golden Man'), Hungary, 1872 EXCERPTS
Tom Burke of "Ours", Charles James Lever, 1853 IMAGE EXCERPT SOURCE
The Trial, Franz Kafka -- There is a scene in which Josef K is waiting to see the advocate, and, showing a picture of his girlfriend to the advocate's young housemaid: "She seems very tightly laced," she said, and pointed to the places where the tight lacing seemed most evident." [In this story, Josef K. is constricted and finally suffocated by the presence of the Court, so one could suppose that this scene is a reflection of that theme.]
A Trip to Manitoba, Mary Fitzgibbon, 1880 EXCERPT
Twice Loved, LaVyrle Spencer,
Set in the mid 1800s Nantucket, a corset and busk is featured several
Twilight, Julia Frankau (writing as Frank Danby), 1916 EXCERPT ARCHIVED ON LINE
Une Certaine Dame, Guy des Cars -- seductive striptease [French]
The Unknown Steersman, Irene Burn, 1912 - "She was acutely miserable if a stray hair escaped its netted thraldom, played only the mildest of tennis because she disliked getting hot and untidy, and suffered the acutest discomfort in the hot weather because she would not relax half an inch of the rigour of her trim belts. Her health suffered, of course, and so did her husband's happiness, but she remained neat in all circumstances, and wrote interminable letters about her daughter's corsets to a disquieted headmistress who hailed from Girton and disapproved of waists." FULL TEXT
Visit to Constantinople and Athens, by Walter Colton, 1836 EXCERPT
Where Passion Leads, by Lisa Kleypas, 1987 EXCERPT BUY THE BOOK
The Wife’s Victory and Other Nouvellettes, by Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth, 1875 EXCERPT
A World From Rough Stones, Malcolm Macdonald, 1974, Coronet Books -- The story of an tunneling engineer who becomes rich and famous during the great railway 'boom' in early Victorian England. There is a scene where the engineer's wife, who is from a relatively humble background, is dressing for a dinner party. When she hears that one of the other lady guests has attained a 21-inch waist, she asks two maids to lace her own waist to 20 inches. They don't quite manage it, however, and she has to settle for 20.5 inches. Later the same evening, in a conversation with her husband, she remarks that she would not like to have to endure such tight-lacing all the time. She also demonstrates to him that she cannot raise her arms above her head, because of the tightness of her dress, and says she wouldn't want such 'confinement' all the time either. EXCERPT
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