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Charlotte Brontë and the Politics of Cloth: The ‘vile rumbling mills’ of YorkshireThis essay examines Charlotte Brontë’s engagement with the textile industry from her earliest writings to her 1849 Condition of England novel Shirley in order to emphasise the role that Yorkshire and its staple industry played in her writing. Critics have discussed Brontë’s interest in textile production largely in relation to Shirley. However, her fascination with cloth manufacturing is evident in many of her Angrian tales and some of her unfinished novels. This essay argues that through her early representations of mills and mill owners Brontë formulated an understanding of political conflict and masculine power which helped to shape her mature writing. This culminates in Shirley with her critique of the taboo against educated women entering careers in trade and manufacturing.