The Great Revolution: Women’s Education in Victorian Times
Joanna Richardson describes how, in 1865, Miss Buss told a School Enquiry Commission: 'I am sure that the girls can learn anything they are taught in an interesting manner.’
In 1852, when she was established as the ruler of a great and growing Empire, Queen Victoria told her uncle, the King of the Belgians:
‘We women are not made for governing - and if we are good women, we must dislike these masculine occupations.’
It seems an extraordinary comment, coming from the woman who was, in time, to reign over one-fifth of the globe - and to do so with legendary distinction. And yet it faithfully represents the feeling of the time: that women were created only to be wives and mothers.
Of course, they should learn household duties; of course they should learn accomplishments, to grace the drawing-room over which they presided. But education, in the fullest sense of the word, was unnecessary: worse than that, it was unfeminine. Intellectual exercise was generally considered to be a masculine occupation.