The Victorian Girl and the Feminine Ideal
Routledge – 1982 – 240 pages
In Victorian England, the perception of girlhood arose not in isolation, but as one manifestation of the prevailing conception of femininity. Examining the assumptions that underlay the education and upbringing of middle-class girls, this book is also a study of the learning of gender roles in theory and reality. It was originally published in 1982.
The first two sections examine the image of women in the Victorian family, and the advice offered in printed sources on the rearing of daughters during the Victorian period. To illustrate the effect and evolution of feminine ideals over the Victorian period, the book’s final section presents the actual experiences of several middle-class Victorian women who represent three generations and range, socioeconomically, from lower-middle class through upper-middle class.
Preface Part 1 1. Women and Girls in the Middle-class Family: Images and Reality 2. The Victorian Middle-class Girl: An Overview 3. ‘Sunbeams’ and ‘Hoydens’: Images of Girlhood in the Victorian Period Part 2 4. Victorian Advice about the Management of Female Childhood 5. A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body: Victorian Advice about the Management of Female Puberty 6. The Proper Young Lady: Victorian Advice about Correct Female Behaviour in Adolescence Part 3 7. Early: Victorian Girlhood Experience 8. Mid-Victorian Girlhood Experience 9. Late-Victorian Epilogue. Conclusion