Dr Hannah Rumball

Dr Hannah Rumball

Dr Hannah Rumball is a lecturer in Critical Studies on the Fashion Design (BA). Her specialism is nineteenth- and early twentieth-century women’s dress and material culture, with a specialist focus on two key areas - tailored garments for women, as well as Quaker Plain dress and its fashionable adaptation. She sits on the committees of two international research networks, Nineteenth Century Dress and Textiles Reframed, and ACORSO Tailoring for Women 1860 – 1930.

Hannah was awarded her PhD in material culture, dress history and Quakerism, from the University of Brighton in 2016. Her doctoral subject was conceived independently, after having completed an AHRC fully-funded Masters by Research at Kingston University on the subject of the prescriptions of Quaker dress. Subsequent consultations with appropriate academics at the RCA, Kingston and Brighton University, as well as independent scholars, ensured the creative and innovative quality of her proposal and illustrates Hannah’s strong cross-discipline collaborative ability. Both the RCA and University of Brighton accepted her proposal, with University of Brighton awarding her a fully-funded scholarship position to undertake the doctoral project.

She has helped in mounting exhibitions for the The National Trust, the William Morris Museum, Regency Town House and the Serpentine Gallery. 

She is currently working with the EU Research body Groupement D’intéret Scientifique Apparences, Corps & Sociétés (ACORSO) on Fashionable Tailoring for Women 1750-1930 on a material culture comparative study of the design, manufacture, retailing and consumption of tailored garments for and by women, at all market levels in the 1750-1930 period. Her specialism for this group is the development of a tailored, waterproof, overcoat style named the Ladies Ulster from 1871 and it’s inventor, the Belfast tailor John Getty McGee. Her first article on the research “The Ladies Ulster in the 1870s and 1880s: From “Eccentric-Looking” to “Beau Ideal”” (2023) was published in Textile: the journal of cloth and culture, and she is pursuing a book contract for an edited collection on Fashionable Tailoring for Women 1750-1930 with Bloomsbury.

Her work on a religious style of dress worn by British Quaker’s, known as Plain dress, and its ultimate relinquishment for fashionable styles during the nineteenth century, has been pursued since her PhD (2016) which was supervised by Professor Lou Taylor at University of Brighton. Her work examines how religious sentiment can be married with fashionable sensibilities, and how this manifested in the wardrobe choices of five case studied women, whose wardrobes survive to this day. Her articles on the subject include “Visibility and Invisibility: Helen Priestman Bright Clark and the struggle for the Position of Women in the Society of Friends, 1873” (2016) Critical Studies, “British Quaker Women's Fashionable Adaptation of their Plain Dress, 1860–1914” (2018) Costume, and her book chapter “Chapter 11: ‘We Must Hope That the Moderates with Their Quiet Attire Are the Rising Section’: British Women Friends’ Relinquishment of Plain Dress” (2023) in Quaker Women 1800 – 1920

In brief

Research areas

Nineteenth century, women's dress and textiles, tailoring, religious dress