The Political Worlds of Women
Gender and Politics in Nineteenth Century Britain
Routledge – 2013 – 268 pages
Traditional analyses of nineteenth-century politics have assigned women a peripheral role. By adopting a broader interpretation of political participation, the author identifies how middle-class women were able to contribute to political affairs in the nineteenth century. Examining the contribution that women made to British political life in the period 1800-1870 stimulates debates about gender and politics, the nature of authority and the definition of political culture.
This volume examines female engagement in both traditional and unconventional political arenas, including female sociability, salons, child-rearing and education, health, consumption, religious reform and nationalism. Richardson focuses on middle-class women’s social, cultural, intellectual and political authority, as implemented by a range of public figures and lesser-known campaigners. The activists discussed and their varying political, economic and religious backgrounds will demonstrate the significance of female interventions in shaping the political culture of the period and beyond.
"This book sets out to challenge analyses of the 19th-century politics that are based on narrow definitions of the subject and therefore marginalise the role of women. Drawing on a broader definition of political culture, Sarah Richardson illustrates a rich diversity of activism, especially that based on writing in various forms… I hope that Richardson's stimulating book marks an important turning point: the end of accounts of half of the population masquerading as history, rather than as men's history." - Susan Hogan, Times Higher Education
"This is a refreshing analysis of women's political participation in various private and public networks in Victorian Britain…The book is valuable to all readers, providing an alternative approach to women and politics in Victorian Britain. It highlights a permeable environment in which women were operating both alongside male relatives and in their own right. Summing Up: Highly recommended." - M. A. Riebe, University of Missouri-Kansas City, CHOICE
Introduction: The Political Worlds of Women in Nineteenth-Century Britain Part I: The Home 1. Politics at Home 2. Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes: The Politics of Domestic Economy Part II: Community and Neighbourhood 3. Philanthropic Economy: Radicalism, Women, and Charity 4. Women and the Politics of the Parish Part III: The National Stage 5. Female Petitioning: The Multiform Warfare of Political Life 6. From the Ventilator to the Ladies’ Cage: Women and the Houses of Parliament Part IV: International Politics 7. Encounters with Imperial and International Affairs 8. British Women and the Rosewater Revolution. Conclusion: Spheres and Spaces; Borders and Frontiers.
Sarah Richardson is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Warwick.