Victorian London's Middle-Class Housewife: What She Did All Day

Victorian London's Middle-Class Housewife: What She Did All Day

Victorian London's Middle-Class Housewife: What She Did All Day

Victorian London's Middle-Class Housewife: What She Did All Day

Synopsis

Through a detailed description of the life and activities of the middle-class married woman of London between 1875 and 1900, this study reveals how housewives unwittingly became engines for change as the new century neared. In marked contrast to the stereotypical depictions of Victorian women in literature and on television Draznin reveal a woman seldom seen: the ordinary stay-at-home housewife whose activities were not much different than those of her counterparts today. By exploring her normal activities; how she cleaned her home, disciplined her children, managed her servants, stretched a limited budget and, later in life began to indulge herself, one discovers a human dimension to women who lived more than a century ago. While most studies of this period consider values, aspirations, and attitudes, this book concentrates on actions, what these women did all day, to provide readers with a new perspective on Victorian life.

Excerpt

The concept of this book, an in-depth study of a special category of British women, developed almost inadvertently. My original interest in Victorian women began when I started to research a biography (never carried through to fruition) of that extraordinary early feminist, the late-nineteenth-century, South African-born writer, Oliver Schreiner. From Schreiner, my interest segued to other late-Victorian British women and focused, as did so many of us who discovered women studies in the 1970s, on those whom I called the “notables.” These were the women who, despite overwhelming pressures simply to marry, have children and embrace the cult of domesticity, broke out of the mold. They struggled to develop in a different direction, to break down the barriers of discrimination in employment, education and political participation they saw around them, to fight against the injustices and exclusions practiced against women. Their struggles engaged my attention amid an awakening sense of outrage.

But gradually, almost begrudgingly, I realized that my real interest lay, not in the notables (whose accomplishments I in no way want underrate, then or now) but in a singular group

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