First published in 1972, this book contains a collection of ten essays that document the feminine stereotypes that women fought against, and only partially erased, a hundred years ago. In an introductory essay, Martha Vicinus describes the perfect Victorian lady, showing that the ideal was a combination of sexual innocence, conspicuous consumption and worship of the family hearth. Indeed, this model in some form was the ideal of all classes as the perfect lady’s only functions were marriage and procreation. The text offers a valuable insight into Victorian culture and society.
Introduction: The Perfect Victorian Lady Martha Vicinus 1. The Victorian Governess: Status Incongruence in Family and Society M. Jeanne Peterson 2. From Dame to Woman: W. S. Gilbert and Theatrical Transvestism Jane W. Stedman 3. Victorian Women and Menstruation Elaine and English Showalter 4. Marriage, Redundancy or Sin: The Painter’s View of Women in the First Twenty-Five Years of Victoria’s Reign Helene E. Roberts 5. A Study of Victorian Prostitution and Venereal Disease E. M. Sigsworth and T. J. Wyke 6. Working-Class Women in Britain, 1890-1914 Peter N. Stearns 7. The Debate over Women: Ruskin vs. Mill Kate Millett 8. Stereotypes of Femininity in a Theory of Sexual Evolution Jill Conway 9. Innocent Femina Sensualis in Unconscious Conflict Peter T. Cominos 10. The Women of England in a Century of Social Change, 18-15-1914: A Select Bibliography S. Barbara Kanner; Notes; Index
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