The Blue Books

Blue Books

Last updated: 10 March 2011

This report caused outrage among Welsh women when published in 1847.

In 1847, three English commissioners were sent to Wales to create a government report about the state of education. What they published - The Blue Books - contained information about much more than simply what was going on in the classroom.

Although pages were filled with statistics and evidence about the awful state of education, the commissioners were also highly critical of what they saw as the poor moral and religious attitude of Welsh people, especially the women.

Here's an extract from the books:

"They learn anything but delicacy of thought and feeling and when they grow to womanhood and marry, they know next to nothing of the management of a house.

"As wives they are most slovenly and improvinent, and as mothers, ignorant, and injudicious."

These three commissioners were English, spoke no Welsh, and relied heavily on the testimony and opinion of Anglican clergymen for their information.

It led to an outcry. Welsh people, prefering to present themselves as pious and church-going, didn't want to be known for slack morals and uncleanliness.

The report became known as Brad y Llyfrau Gleision, or the Treachery of the Blue Books.

As a result, the non-conformist minister Evan Jones founded the women's magazine, Y Gymraes. He aimed to show how wrong the accusations of the Blue books were and he produced statistics to show the number of illegitimate children in Wales was no higher than in England.

Evan Jones tried to promote a more respectable way of life for Welsh women. Y Gymraes was full of articles on religion, marriage, and morality, as well as housekeeping and cooking advice.

The monthly magazine came to an end after just two years because of a lack of support. Over 20 years later, the women of Wales again had their own publication once again. In 1879, Y Frythones (The Female Briton) appeared, edited by Sarah Jane Rees (Cranogwen).

When Y Frythones came to an end in 1891, it was decided to revive Y Gymraes. The first issue of the new Gymraes appeared in 1896, edited by Alice Gray Jones (Ceridwen Peris), and continued until December 1934.


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