"A study in seemliness"

Posted by Tory Historian Monday, December 29, 2008 , ,

There will be further postings on the subject of dates and, Tory Historian hopes, further discussions before some kind of an agreed list is produced. The suspicion is that we might have to have a list of 100 or, at least, 75. It is obvious that 50 is an inadequate number.

In the meantime, Tory Historian has been reading various books, including Amanda Vickery's fascinating account of a number of Georgian families and their womenfolk in Lancashire. Her study is based on the ladies' diaries and letters, giving the reader a strong feeling of entering those lives.

"The Gentleman's Daughter" refutes the accepted historical argument that women of the middle class lost various freedoms and occupations in the eighteenth century and shows their lives in their full and active reality.

A couple of quotations from the introductory chapter set the theme:

What follows then is a study in seemliness; a reconstruction of penalties and possibilities of lives lived within the bounds of propriety. Yet, as will emerge, even the bounds of propriety were wider than historians have been apt to admit
It is hard to imagine them [those gentlemen's daughters, wives, sisters and mothers] ever smiling on the likes of a feminist writer such as Mary Wollstonecraft, a mannish lesbian as Anne Lister or a fashionable adulteress such as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.
Presumably that means that Keira Knightley will not be playing any of them in a bad film. Something to be thankful for.

1 Responses to "A study in seemliness"

  1. Laban Says:
  2. Could I recommend to you the unpublished journals of Frances Roper, a memoir of a middle-class Christian Englishwoman growing up in the Forest of Dean.

    Victorian Hangover

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