Dramas and novels
Aunt Eliza's Garret is the title of an 1854 melodrama by G. M. Viner, on how drinking, bad business skills and an even worse choice of friends could reduce a family to poverty, forcing its 'respectable' female members to become 'needlewomen' in order to make a semblance of a living.
Aunt Jane of Kentucky is a collection of nine short stories written by Eliza Calvert Hall. It was first published in Boston, USA, in 1907. Hall was the pen name of the American writer and suffragist, Eliza ‘Lida’ Calvert Obenchain (1856-1935). Throughout the book, Aunt Jane, an old country woman, uses patchwork and quilting metaphors to explore power relationships between women and men.
Betty Jacobson Hechtman (1947) has written a series of detectives that feature Molly Pink, who organises various events in a California bookshop, including those of the Tarzana Hookers. Titles include Hooked on Murder (2008); Dead Men Don't Crochet (2008); Seams Like Murder (2016; "delicious recipe & crochet pattern included").
Gammer Gurton's Needle is the title of an anonymous rustic and poetic drama that was written, allegedly, in 1533, and performed at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1566 or 1567. It is a comedy in which a lost needle plays the major part. Its full title is A Ryght Pithy, Pleasaunt and Merie Comedie: Intytuled Gammer Gurtons Nedl. It was accredited in the past to Bishop John Still, but this association has since been refuted.
The Needlecraft Mystery series includes a series of books written by Monica Ferris. They feature Betsy Devonshire, who runs a needlecraft shop ('Crewel World') in Excelsior, Minnesota, USA. Titles include 'Crewel World' (1999: "where murder in a small town keeps one smart lady on pins and needles"; "free needlepoint pattern included"); 'Framed in Lace' (1999); 'A Murderous Yarn' (2002); 'Hanging by a Thread' (2003), etc.
Emile Zola's novel Le Rêve ('The Dream') concerns an orphaned girl who is adopted by professional embroiderers and who becomes an expert in or nué embroidery. Le Rêve is the sixteenth novel in the so-called Rougon-Macquart series. The book was published in 1888 (Paris, Charpentier). The first English translation came out in 1893.
The Language of Threads is a novel from 2000, set in Hong Kong in the 1930's. It features Pei, who works initially as a saitong (washer and ironer of richly embroidered cheongsams), and then later she sets up a tailoring business. Here she starts to embroider the story of her life in silk.
The Last Runaway is a novel by the American author, Tracy Chevalier. Its main themes are quilting and head coverings (millinery). It was published in 2013 and is the author's seventh book. The novel is set in Ohio (USA) in the 1850's. The main character is Honor Bright, an English Quaker, who expresses herself through quilt making. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad, a network which helped escaping slaves to freedom.