World Textiles

Mary Schoeser


The history of textiles, more than that of any other artifact, is a history of human ingenuity. From the very earliest needles of 25,000 years ago to the smart textiles of today, textiles have been fundamental to human existence, and enjoyed, prized, and valued by every culture. Silks from China, cottons from India, tapestries from Flanders, dyes from South America—the appeal of different weaves, colors, and patterns was long a motivation for trade, the exchange of ideas, and sometimes even war.

Mary Schoeser’s groundbreaking book, now revised and updated to incorporate new research with color illustrations, presents a chronological survey of textiles around the world from prehistory to the present. It explores how they are made, what they are made from, how they function in society, and the ways in which they are valued and given meaning as well as reflecting on the environmental challenges they present today. World Textiles offers an invaluable introduction to this vast and fascinating subject for makers, designers, textile and fashion professionals, collectors, and students alike. 


It is difficult to think of a valid reason why anyone with an interest in textiles should not obtain a copy. 

— Textiles

Well written and comprehensive, the wealth of beautiful illustrations in World Textiles makes it hard to put down. 

— The Lecturer

Groundbreaking …An invaluable introduction to this vast and fascinating subject. 

— New England Antiques Journal


Mary Schoeser


Mary Schoeser is a recognized authority on the history of textiles. She has advised organizations such as English Heritage, the National Trust, Liberty of London, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Her publications cover the full range of textile history, from the textile entries in Materials and Techniques in the Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Dictionary and monographs on textile artists such as Rozanne Hawksley , to surveys of contemporary work in International Textile Design and its context in Textiles: The Art of Mankind . Currently an honorary senior research fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, she has served as the Honorary President of the Textile Society (UK) and remains Patron of the Bernat Klein Foundation and the School of Textiles, Coggeshall.