Cruising the Macaroni Print Shop: Reading Into & Against an 18th Century Moral Panic

The print shop of Matthew and Mary Darly was made famous by Mary's sharp, satirical illustrations. Not only did Mary Darly write the earliest known book on caricature, but one of her bestselling and most prolific "caricatures" were that of the "Macaronis," named after the limp pasta being imported from Italy to describe a particular kind of effeminate and extravagant fashion among men of the late 18th century. These Macaroni Prints were extravagant in their own right, imagining and depicting the fashion on people from all walks of society–Bricklayer, Farmer, Soldier, Auctioneer–and across the kingdom, from Sussex and Macaronis to "Ancient Hibernian" Macaronis, which in turn fed into a moral panic about both the gender identity and sexual proclivities of the men they portrayed. This lecture will invoke the vibrant culture of macaroni fashions depicted (and derided) across the Darly's prints, as well as read against the grain of moral panic they inspired to think expansively about what they tell us about the history of gender non-conformity and queer fashion.

Brooke Palmieri is a writer, printmaker, and bookseller specialising in LGBTQIA+ history, and the history of gender non-conforming people more broadly. They run CAMP BOOKS, both an imprint for widening access to queer history, as well as a collection hub for buying and selling lost artefacts, prints, and rare books, with an aim for their use in education and cultural heritage. For more see

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