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18 February 2020English Climate or French Perfidy: the failure of English sericulture
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English Climate or French Perfidy: the failure of English sericulture Susan Whitfield Tuesday 18 February 2020

Sericulture was established throughout much of continental Europe by the 14th century. With the British élite joining the fashion for expensive silk clothing, in the 17th century James I set about establishing sericulture in England. Importing thousands of mulberry trees from France, by 1611 the first harvest of raw silk was produced. But the venture did not thrive. This lecture will tell the story of this failed industry, of Shakespeare’s famous mulberry and of the later — and successful — weaving industry, facilitated by the skilled Huguenot refugees seeking sanctuary in Britain.

Dr Susan Whitfield is a writer, scholar, lecturer and traveler of the Silk Roads. During 25 years curating the collections of manuscripts from Dunhuang and other Silk Road sites at the British Library, she also helped found and then developed the International Dunhuang Project (IDP), now a thriving international collaboration working on the art and artefacts of the eastern Silk Road. She has lectured and written widely on the Silk Road. Her latest book, Silk, Slaves and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road, was published in March 2018. She has also curated several major exhibitions and organized field trips to archaeological sites in the Taklamakan desert.