I love this picture of fisherwomen on Holy Island in 1857. They are dressed for work, assorted layers for warmth and practicality. Their feet are probably soaked through and cold. And their expressions as they look at the photographer clearly say “We’ve got work to do. Haven’t you anything better to do than take pictures of us?” Even the donkeys, laden with heavy baskets of fish, look fed up.
I’m sure – I hope – that these women had some fun and love and laughter in their lives but everything about them seems to reek of stoicism, of relentless keeping on keeping on, a daily grind that had little opportunity for treats and jollity. And they were the lucky ones who could make a living.
With all due respect to them both, they do not have the appearance of women who indulge themselves with creams and lotions or run through hay meadows with their glorious hair blowing free in the sunshine.
This is what the past looked like. It wasn’t picturesque and pretty. It was for many a world of work and care, of managing on very little and having to settle for less, when girls might have been gorgeous at 16 and ancient by 30.
Just remember this when you watch Poldark.