The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England

The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England

by Amanda Vickery
     
 

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What was the life of an eighteenth-century British genteel woman like? In this lively and controversial book, Amanda Vickery invokes women’s own accounts of their intimate and their public lives to argue that in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the scope of female experience did not diminish—in fact, quite the reverse. Refuting the common

Overview

What was the life of an eighteenth-century British genteel woman like? In this lively and controversial book, Amanda Vickery invokes women’s own accounts of their intimate and their public lives to argue that in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the scope of female experience did not diminish—in fact, quite the reverse. Refuting the common understanding that in Georgian times the daughters of merchants, the wives of lawyers, and the sisters of gentlemen lost female freedoms and retreated into their homes, Vickery shows that these women experienced expanding social and intellectual horizons. As they embraced a world far beyond the boundaries of their own parishes through their tireless writing and ravenous reading, genteel women also enjoyed an array of emerging new public arenas—assembly rooms, concert series, theater seasons, circulating libraries, day-time lectures, urban walks, and pleasure gardens.

Based on the letters, diaries, and account books of over one hundred women from commercial, professional, and gentry families, this book transforms our understanding of the position of women in Georgian England. In their own words, they tell of their sometimes humorous, sometimes moving experiences and desires, and of their many roles, including kinswoman, wife, mother, housekeeper, consumer, hostess, and member of polite society. By the nineteenth century, family duties continued to dominate women’s lives, yet, Vickery contends, the public profile of privileged women had reached unprecedented heights.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This meticulously researched social history should be welcomed by specialists in British and European women's history. Vickery (British women's history, Univ. of London) challenges the standard argument that once the industrial revolution took production out of the home, women's lives were marginalized in the domestic sphere. Using the letters, diaries, and account books of more than 100 women from the "genteel" classes, she theorizes that women's activities actually expanded as they involved themselves in new areas of community life. Indeed, she concludes that the struggles of the Victorian suffragettes may have stemmed not from a sense of oppression but from a desire to expand the gains of their Georgian predecessors. Unfortunately, Vickery's insistence on proving her provocative thesis overwhelms the richness of the descriptive material she presents: there is good information here on household management, servants, material culture, shopping and consumption, and female attitudes on courtship, pregnancy, motherhood, and child rearing. Recommended for academic libraries.--Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., Livingston, NJ
Claire Tomalin
A gold mine in the realm of women's history. -- Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300177213
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
08/11/2003
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB

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