Thomas More's Utopia - communal living

Besides agriculture, which is so common to them all, every man has some peculiar trade to which he applies himself, such as the manufacture of wool, or flax, masonry, smith's work, or carpenter's work; for there is no sort of trade that is in great esteem among them. Throughout the island they wear the same sort of clothes without any other distinction, except what is necessary to distinguish the two sexes, and the married and unmarried.

At the hours of dinner and supper, the whole Syphogranty being called together by sound of trumpet, they meet and eat together, except only such as are in the hospitals, or lie sick at home. Yet after the halls are served, no man is hindered to carry provisions home from the market-place; for they know that none does that but for some good reason; for though any that will may eat at home, yet none does it willingly, since it is both ridiculous and foolish for any to give themselves the trouble to make ready an ill dinner at home, when there is a much more plentiful one made ready for him so near hand.


More's Utopian society is communal. Every family makes its own clothes and everyone learns a trade. Women are regarded as weaker and therefore deal in wool and flax, leaving the tougher trades to the men.

Women are responsible for preparing and cooking the food. Dirty and unpleasant jobs around the hall and kitchens are performed by slaves.

Utopians rise early and work for six hours a day. They eat together in the evening and are in bed by 8.00pm. The rest of their time is their own but they are expected to spend it wisely.

Syphogrants (magistrates) see to it that no-one is idle and that everyone works hard.

Image taken from: LUtopie de Thomas Morus
Creator: Thomas More
Publisher: Pierre van der Aa
Date created: 1715
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 232.b.20

Taken from: Sir Thomas More's Utopia
Author / Creator: Thomas More (translated by Gilbert Burnet)
Publisher: George Routledge & Sons
Date: 1885
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board