While the aristocratic women of the Victorian age have long preoccupied the popular imagination, seldom have women of other classes been granted a voice. Victorian Women is the first book to allow women of all classes to render their own lives, in their own words, from birth to old age, in the long nineteenth century between the French Revolution and the First World War.
In letters, memoirs, and other contemporary sources these women describe their childhood and education; courtship, marriage and homemaking; sex and motherhood; marital breakdown; widowhood; and their pastimes and entertainments. Their voices, heretofore drowned by the cacophony of louder, often male versions of history, speak to us with clarity and poignancy, revealing strength of feeling, courage, and humor. We find in this book the unmarried woman worker, the single mother, the prostitute, as well as those who fought for professional recognition against the regiments of the church, government, and law.
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Joan Perkin teaches women's history at Northwestern University. She is the author of It's Never Too late: A Practical Guide to Continuing Education for Women of all Ages, and Women and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century England.Review:
"A useful and engaging book, one in which real voices are allowed to speak and to describe experience as being as squalid, muddled, painful and interesting as it generally is."-Sunday Times
"On individual examples Perkin is superb, not just on the great reformers but on the individual free-wheelers like Isabella Bird-Bishop, who set off at 40 to see the whole world and managed it."-The Independent
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