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General Vic Era Discussions > Intrepid Victorian Women

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message 1: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK We read a lot about the restricted lives of Victorian women on these threads but it is also worth remembering that there were other much more intrepid women in those times who kicked the traces and travelled to pastures new. Lesley Blanch's The Wilder Shores of Love tells the stories of four such women who journeyed to the 'mysterious east' in search of both adventure and 'lurv'.

And Dea Birkett's Spinsters Abroad : Victorian Lady Explorers 'draws on the diaries, letters and other writings of 50 such women':

Perhaps these books might be worth discussing under the Neo-Victorians label sometime?

message 2: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1763 comments Mod
Does anyone care to create a list of Victorian women who lived against the norm of their times? It would be interesting to read some of their stories

message 3: by Louise (last edited Jul 29, 2017 03:39AM) (new)

Louise Culmer | 45 comments Dr james miranda barry is an unusual figure. Born a girl, she spent most of her life as a man, attending medical scholl and qualifying as a doctor. Working mainly abroad, she for instance performed the first successful caesarian operation jn South Africa in 1826, both mother and baby surviving. Florence nightingale had a memorable encounter with her in Scutari in 1855;
"i never had such a blackguarding in my life - i who have had more than any woman - than from Barry sitting on his horse while i was crossing the hospital square with only my cap on in the sun. he kept me standing in The midst of a crowd of soldiers, commissariats, servants, camp followers,etc, every one of whom behaved like a gentleman during the scolding I received while he behaved like a brute. After she was dead i was told she was a woman. i should say she was the most hardened creature i have ever met throughout the army."

message 4: by Louise (last edited Jul 29, 2017 03:43AM) (new)

Louise Culmer | 45 comments Florence nighhtingale defied the social norms of her class to become a nurse, not an occupation for a woman of her class, nursing bring held in very low esteem then. She fought a long battle against authority to improve hospital conditions in the Crimea. She founded a school of nursing and turned nursing into a respectable profession.

Elizabeth garrett Anderson managed to qualify as a doctor through the society of Apothecaries. She founded her own medical practice, and opened the St Mary's dispensary for women and children. She paved the way for other women to become doctors.

josephine Butler fought a courageous battle against the Sexual offences act and championed fhe cause of prostitutes and other low class women, she was fearless in her pursuit of this unpopular cause.

Dorothea Buss and Frances beale were champions of women's education. Both became headmistresses of schools that offered a high standard of education for girls, and they campaigned for improved ducation for girls, for girls to be able to sit public exams, and attend university. A former pupil wrote of them:
"miss Buss and Miss Beale
Cupid's darts do not feel.
How different from us,
Miss Beale and Miss Buss."

message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2552 comments One of my favorite intrepid Victorian women was Mary Kingsley. Her Travels in West Africa is a marvelous work, one I have nominated here at least twice and will keep nominating until we finally vote for it!

message 6: by Kerstin, Moderator (last edited Jul 29, 2017 09:16AM) (new)

Kerstin | 572 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "One of my favorite intrepid Victorian women was Mary Kingsley. Her Travels in West Africa is a marvelous work, one I have nominated here at least twice and will keep nominating until we finally vot..."

Alltogether the book was nominated 3 times. I've been doing a bit of behind-the-scenes cleaning up of the bookshelf and added books that have been nominated but never entered. There were quite a few, hers included.

message 7: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (surfcrashrepeat) | 5 comments There are actually a few ladies who seemed to have taken this route, but Marianne North is the one I know most about. She travelled extensively to paint botanical illustrations and broke all kinds of rules for Victorian ladies. This is a great article about her and her paintings on display at Kew Gardens:

message 8: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments The female French author George Sand (1804-1876), was not only a talented writer, but also a free woman whose life is a novel. I saw, on Goodreads, her memoirs:
Story of My Life: The Autobiography of George Sand by George Sand, Thelma Jurgrau (Editor).
I read her autobiography in French, it’s amazing : her life is a novel! I don’t know if this transaltion is good, I don’t read in French, but if it is, everyone should read it ! 😊
When she was three, her father was in Napoleon's army. Her mother and she went to join him in Spain, annexed by the French. Then, the French army repulsed in its borders by the Hispano-Anglo-Portuguese army (Lord Wellington at its head), George Sand and her mother followed the French towards France: misery and hunger were their unbearable daily friends. One day, French soldiers, moved by this little girl, offered her a soup that they had cooked with what they had found. The girl felt sick: the soup was made with candles wicks!
Then we know, twenty years later, after she left her husband, how she managed to live as a free woman and a loving mother.

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