Illuminating Women: The Case of Candles in the English Home, 1815–1900


Reflecting on the everyday use of candles, Sayer shows that the story of domestic illumination is anything but simple. As the primary domestic “caretakers,” women in the past made energy choices based on wealth, supply, effectiveness, and convenience, with candles remaining a staple in the home even after the introduction of gas and electricity. In this piece, the author illustrates the importance of looking to less prominent energy sources and their uses in order to fully understand the complex nature of energy transitions.