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18 September 2014
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Victorian Britain

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Victorian Women's Home Life: Go Further


Discovering Women's History: A Practical Guide to Researching the Lives of Women since 1800 by D Beddoe (Longman, 1998). A practical guide to sources on women's history and how to go about writing and researching women in the past.

Women's History: Britain 1850-1945 edited by June Purvis (Routledge, 1997). A collection of general, accessible articles covering all aspects of women's lives in Britain from family and education to work, leisure and empire.

Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850 by L Davidoff and C Hall (Routledge, 1987). A key study of the English middle classes in Essex and Birmingham. This book contains the best description of the ideology of separate spheres as it was lived by men and women of the middle classes.

A Magazine of Her Own: Domesticity and Desire in the Woman's Magazine, 1800-1914 by Margaret Beetham (Routledge, 1996). A study of women's magazines in the nineteenth century containing detailed information on the content of the publications and illustrations. Contains references to Isabella Beeton's publications.

1900 House edited by Mark McCrum and Matthew Sturgis (Channel 4 Books, 2000). Book based on the Channel 4 television series of the same name, which charted the experiences of a 20th-century family attempting to live as a family in 1900 would have done. Provides some interesting insights into women's experiences regarding managing servants, coping with housework in the absence of labour-saving appliances, and in respect of the restraints imposed by the fashions of the day.

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management by Isabella Mary Beeton, edited by Nicola Humble (Oxford Paperbacks, 2000)

Mrs Beeton's Family Cookbook edited by Bridget Jones (Orion, 1994)

Mrs Beeton's Complete Kitchen Reference edited by Jeni Wright (Orion Publishing, 1999)

Themes in Women's History by J Hannam, K Holden, H Mello and P Summerfield (TLT CD-ROM). An interactive CD-ROM containing text and sources and covering themes such as 'Women and health', the 'Two world wars' and 'Politics'.


The National Archives: Offers a wide selection of sources relating to the lives of women in Victorian society, and to the way their role changed as the age progressed.

The Women's Library: This library resource contains archives and secondary material on the history of women and the women's movement.

Spartacus Schoolnet: Directed at schools, and containing biographies of key women in the history of the British women's movement.

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Places to visit

Try your local library for copies of Mrs Beeton's books. Many of them are still in print. Your local archive or library may hold the annual reports of women's charitable organisations such as temperance associations. Many cities also have Women's Libraries which contain books, and sometimes primary source material, relating to women in the past.

In Scotland, the People's Palace Museum on Glasgow Green contains lots of artefacts relating to women's lives - including a whole section on working-class housing. Also in Glasgow, you can visit the Tenement House, a preserved tenement apartment containing the original furnishings of the last inhabitant.

Women's History Trails have been established in a number of cities - including Dundee, Manchester and London. These trails, usually taken on foot, allow you to visit places of significance for women's history - such as the homes of notable women, or sites of historical significance. Take a look in your local press for details.

Published: 05-11-2004

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