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On women's education

Books by women
Suffragette literature
Books compiled by women
Books translated by women
Books for women
Books about women
Biographies of women
On women's education
Owned by women
Illustrated by women
Published by women

Fénelon, François de Salignac de la Mothe De l'éducation des filles:  Instructions for the education of daughters. Translated from the French, and revised by George Hickes, D.D.  Glasgow, 1750 Sp Coll Bh12-f.28 

Fénelon's treatise was composed for girls of "good family" and gives a picture of French society of the day. The volume covers numerous aspects of girls education, such as "The first foundation of a right education" and "Housewifery and neatness." Two sizable sections of the volume are on religion, namely "How the principles of religion are to be instilled" and "Instructions for the practical part of religion". Although Fénelon does recognise  that girls should be educated, he does also write "It is true, there must be caution, not to make them [women] ridiculous, by making them learned, women being ordinarily of a weaker, as well as more inquisitive temper than men; it's not proper to indulge their vanity in this, or to engage 'em in studies that may turn their brains, as it is not their business either to govern the state, or to make war..."

This translated version of Education des filles was translated by a friend of Dr. George Hickes, who then edited and adapted the work for English readers. Hickes states that the purpose of this translation "was upon a particular occasion, for the private use of a noble lady of great piety and wisdom, in the educating of her daughters" This volume was printed and sold in Glasgow by R.&A. Foulis. 

Title-page of translated edition of Education des filles  

Advice to governesses London : J. Hatchard, 1827 Stack AA3-k.36 

This volume, written anonymously, provides an account of the life of a governess. The volume begins by describing the type of woman, and the  characteristics that would make a good governess. The book gives a shrewd account of the life of a governess in a private family, including its difficulties, to which an entire chapter is dedicated. The curriculum of the governesses charges is described, noting the subjects which she would be expected to teach, including music, French, reading, geography and history. A chapter of the book is dedicated to religious instruction.

Title-page of the Instruction of a Christen woman

Vives, Juan Luis A very frvtefvl and pleasant booke called the Instruction of a Christen woman, made first in latyne ...tourned out of latyne into English by Rycharde Hyrde London: 1557 Sp Coll BD1-f.17 

Vives, friend of Erasmus and More, was chosen by Queen Catherine as tutor to Princess Mary.  This work is split into three books, all of which were written for the direction of Mary's education and are dedicated to Queen Catherine. Vives' consuming interest was in moral reform, holding the opinion that the failings of women were due to their lack of education and that the acquisition of knowledge would fortify their character. The chapter titles in the books are varied, ranging from "Of the bringyng up of a maide when she is a babe", "Of the keeping of virginitee and chastitee" to "What bokes be to be redde, and what not".

Beginning of the first book of the Instruction of a Christen woman

Chapone, Hester Mulso Letters on the improvement of the mind, addressed to a young lady London: 1774 Sp Coll Bh3-k.28-29 

These letters provide an insight into the curricula of women's studies sanctioned by contemporary opinion. Foremost place is given to history, with geography and chronology also regarded as being of utmost importance - these studies were first brought into fashion for women by Queen Mary. In this volume, Mrs. Chapone insists on the importance of prolonged self-education and has always in mind a kind of post-graduate course for girls of fifteen, whose school days were normally over by this age.

Shirreff, Emily Anne Eliza Intellectual education, and its influence on the character and happiness of women London : John Parker, 1858 Store HA01895 

Emily Shirreff (1814-1897) was a prominent figure in the women's education movement. Shirreff held a number of prominent and important positions such as Mistress of Girton College (1870) and was heavily involved in societies for the development of women's education, such as  co-founder of the National Union for improving the Education of Women, 1871, and of the Girls' Public Day School Trust, 1873, and assisted in the foundation of the Froebel Society in 1875. In this book Shirreff maintains that " in educating a young girl the only safe course is to hold up individual perfectness as the aim of education; to train her as God's creature, not as man's subordinate"

Davies, Emily The higher education of women London : A. Strahan, 1866 Store HA01887 

In this volume Davis forwards and illustrates the idea that while the notion persisted that women's chief business and role in life was to please men, no progress could be made in the women's cause. However, if all concerned with education proposed to themselves a worthier aim, that of " seeking in every human should that divine image which it is their work to call out and develop" questions of sex would cease to hamper their efforts.

It was chiefly as a result of Emily Davies work that Girton College (the first residential college for women) was founded where Davies was mistress from 1873-1875. 


Title-page from Letters on the improvement of the mind