In Search of the New Woman: Middle-Class Women and Work in Britain, 1870-1914
By: Gillian Sutherland (author)Hardback
The 'New Women' of late nineteenth-century Britain were seen as defying society's conventions. Studying this phenomenon from its origins in the 1870s to the outbreak of the Great War, Gillian Sutherland examines whether women really had the economic freedom to challenge norms relating to work, political action, love and marriage, and surveys literary and pictorial representations of the New Woman. She considers the proportion of middle-class women who were in employment and the work they did, and compares the different experiences of women who went to Oxbridge and those who went to other universities. Juxtaposing them against the period's rapidly expanding but seldom studied groups of women white-collar workers, the book pays particular attention to clerks and teachers and their political engagement. It also explores the dividing lines between ladies and women, the significance of respectability and the interactions of class, status and gender lying behind such distinctions.
Gillian Sutherland's first work addressed government in nineteenth-century Britain, and the essays she edited in 1972, Studies in the Growth of Nineteenth-Century Government, have remained a standard work, republished in a new library edition in 2010. She focussed then on developing structures of government in education; more generally she has worked to place education firmly within the mainstream of British political, social, cultural and economic history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She has published extensively on elementary education, on intelligence testing between 1880 and 1940, and on the transformation of the education of women. She ran the international conference, 'The Transformation of an Elite?' commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary of the admission of women to full membership of the University of Cambridge in 1998, and she delivered the nineteenth-century lecture in the History Faculty series for the University's 800th anniversary celebrations in 2009. Her most recent book with Cambridge University Press was Faith, Duty and the Power of Mind: The Cloughs and their Circle, 1820-1960 (2006). Retired now from full-time teaching, she remains research-active as a Fellow of Newnham College and a member of the History Faculty at Cambridge.
1. 'A sort of bogey whom no-one has ever seen'? The nature of the search; 2. 'All that she sees before her ... is teaching': formal schooling and its opportunities; 3. 'The exercise of what may be termed her maternal faculties': public service and 'caring' occupations; 4. 'Impossible for a lady to remain a lady': art, literature and the theatre; 5. 'The real social divide existed between those who ... dirtied hands and face and those who did not': women white collar workers (I); 6. 'A beggarly makeshift, but for me it was wealth beyond price': women white collar workers (II); 7. Ladies and women; 8. Some conclusions: degrees of freedom; Sources and select bibliography.
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