The Governess: An Anthology
The governess has haunted the British imagination since the eighteenth century, when in the indomitable person of the preceptress, she helped to define what it meant to be a rational woman. In the nineteenth century she evolved into a far more enigmatic figure, embodying both the hopes and fears of the moneyed classes and marking faultlines in the ideal of domestic femininity. Who was the Victorian governess and why did her fate inspire generations of novelists and reformers? This lively and engaging anthology brings together a huge range of material, from the classics - Emma, Jane Eyre, Vanity Fair - to the less familiar - popular fiction, journalism, memoirs, advice manuals, letters and schoolbooks - to give an insight into her life. Following a general introduction, individual chapters examine becoming a governess, the methods and skills of her working life, the problems it involved and the solutions offered by reformers, the experience of living away from home, and fantasies of and about the governess. Richly illustrated with contemporary paintings and engravings, caricatures and schoolroom ephemera, and including a wealth of first-hand recollections, The Governess will prove an invaluable resource for those studying the Victorian novel and the history of women's work and girls' education. It is also an entertaining read for those who simply enjoy nineteenth-century fiction and social history.
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