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The Gentleman's Daughter: Women`s Lives in Georgian England Paperback – July 11, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0300080025 ISBN-10: 0300080026

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (July 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300080026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300080025
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,744,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Winner of the Longman History Today Prize in 1998, Amanda Vickery's The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England is an outstanding study of a crucial period in modern women's history. Roy Porter described this book as "the most important thing in English feminist history in the last ten years." Readers familiar with the feminist analysis of women's lives in the late 18th to mid-19th century will find some of the commonplaces of that viewpoint called into question: the rise of "separate spheres" of male and female experience, for example, or the social construction of motherhood in the 18th century. At once scholarly and readable, The Gentleman's Daughter takes its readers on a vivid and well-illustrated tour of "genteel" Georgian society, bringing that world to life through what Vickery identifies as the "terms set out in their own letters by genteel women." Those terms structure the seven sections of the book: "Gentility", "Love and Duty', "Fortitude and Resignation" (which includes a notable discussion of the experience of pregnancy), "Prudent Economy", "Elegance", "Civility and Vulgarity", and "Propriety". "Our battles were not necessarily theirs," Vickery reminds us, striking her convincing balance between a feminist interest in the restriction and rebellion of women's lives and their own ways of finding meaning and pleasure in the gender distinctions of Georgian culture. --Vicky Lebeau, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This meticulously researched social history should be welcomed by specialists in British and European women's history. Vickery (British women's history, Univ. of London) challenges the standard argument that once the industrial revolution took production out of the home, women's lives were marginalized in the domestic sphere. Using the letters, diaries, and account books of more than 100 women from the "genteel" classes, she theorizes that women's activities actually expanded as they involved themselves in new areas of community life. Indeed, she concludes that the struggles of the Victorian suffragettes may have stemmed not from a sense of oppression but from a desire to expand the gains of their Georgian predecessors. Unfortunately, Vickery's insistence on proving her provocative thesis overwhelms the richness of the descriptive material she presents: there is good information here on household management, servants, material culture, shopping and consumption, and female attitudes on courtship, pregnancy, motherhood, and child rearing. Recommended for academic libraries.?Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., Livingston, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This book is fabulous.
A. Woodley
The text often refers to the illustrations, and there is page after page with a message that due to copyright etc, the illustration is not there.
tsc
I found myself blinking in surprise, and laughed out loud more than once at some witty observation one of the correspondents made.
Corrielle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on November 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
BUY IT!
This book is fabulous. Amanda Vickery delves into the subject of women's lives in Georgian in England to a depth and with a sensitivity I have not seen before.
The Gentlemen's daughters are the next level down from the aristocracy. This is the class to which Jane Austen belonged - the 'almost' leisured classes you might say. Through painstaking research of diaries, letters, cross references to other sources such as newspapers and even old store manifests Vickery has pieced together an intimate, interesting and entertaining look at their lives.
We see how they spent their days as well getting an overview of their life in general. Some of the situations draw laughter - one woman was forever fetching back one female servant but others show the level of helplessness that could occur in marriage. One of these women, Ellen Stock, was turned out on the street by her husband, another records the beatings which her husband gave her.
The book doesn't dwell with salacious pleasure on this sort of thing though - Vickery discusses it in the full range of marriage probabilities for women. She also documents happier marriages.
There are seven chapters in all and they cover the spectrum of social and home life for women - They are; Gentility, Love and duty, Fortitude and Resignation, Prudent Economy, Elegance, Civility and Vulgarity, and finally Propriety.
If there were one book you were going to buy to represent Georgian life in England then let it be this.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By marylandmom on November 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book reminds me of reading someone's doctoral dissertation--but that isn't meant to be an insult, just a comment on the writing style (academic). We are introduced to real women and their real situations by way of their letters and diaries. It is full of very interesting stories of a few related women in 18th century England. My only wish would be that the book could have been written to include women from other areas in England--really just more women in general. I appreciate the author's work in this under-researched area and hope it inspires more research in the future.
I have long wished that I could have lived in Jane Austen's world (with epidurals). But after reading this I realize that I would rather keep my appliances and modern medicine and my legal rights. I appreciated this book because it broke me of my misconceptions about any kind of "romantic" life of the women of this "almost leisure" class, as another reviewer called it. They were at the mercy of their husbands, their social situation and fate. Very thought provoking for a Jane Austen fan like myself.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Rodney A. Moulds on February 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I will admit that I was given this book by a dear friend, but the gift arrived at one of those amazingly serendipitous moments when everything in one's intellectual life seems to point in a single direction. During the past two years I have been rather single-minded in my pursuit of English literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, and first on my list of "keepers" are the novels written by such figures as Fanny Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Ann Radcliffe, and of course, Jane Austen. Thus, as you can imagine, Ms. Vickery's amazing feat of scholarship has been a more than welcome discovery. At turns both light-hearted and astoundingly detailed, it does just what a history book should do, in my estimation, and that is bring the past to life. Part of the fascination of history is, no doubt, that we can see how very strange and remote another time is, but how wonderful to find a work that so adroitly shows how very much we have in common with an earlier time, and in my case, brings the experiences known only through novels to full and meaningful life. I especially appreciate the fact that the author is at pains to point out just how at odds the evidence is with accepted feminist history; this somewhat contrary approach is altogether convincing. But the highest praise I can give from my perspective as a non-historian is that The Gentleman's Daughter (I cannot help but wonder if the title does not echo Elizabeth Bennet, but I may be, at present, too dazzled by Miss Austen to settle upon any other conclusion) is dazzling and entertaining, and I beg my more scholarly companions in reading to excuse the use of the suspect term.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Corrielle on March 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book contains a wealth of information, and I certainly enjoyed reading it. The author bases her findings on her study of the letters and diaries of a group of women in Northern England in the last half of the 18th century. From these sources, she attempts to draw conclusions about the women's attitudes and daily lives. I haven't read much straight history, other than textbooks, so what I'm about to say may not be worth much, but her conclusions made sense to me. She referenced other historians freely, and explained how her research either supported or contradicted common assumptions about the period.

I think that the sections that were most interesting to me personally were those where she talked about marriage and housekeeping. I had a vague idea that respectable women were expected to have certain skills, but the sheer scope of what these ladies did just to keep their house in working order is incredible to me. And of course, they did this while bearing and raising children, keeping up with their social contacts, and doing all of this with the appearance of ease. I have newfound respect for those ladies. These were no pretty, ornamental blushing violets. They knew the rules of the social world they were expected to abide by, and they used them for all they were worth. One of the things that I really liked about this book was the amount of actual text from the primary sources that was included. I found myself blinking in surprise, and laughed out loud more than once at some witty observation one of the correspondents made. These women were smart, funny, shrewd, human. That's one of the most valuable things for me about books like this. Besides giving me all sorts of interesting little details, it makes the people seem more like, well, people and less like dead names on a page.
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More About the Author

Amanda Vickery is the prize-winning author of The Gentleman's Daughter (Yale University Press, 1998) and Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England (Yale University Press, 2009), now a 3 part TV series for BBC2 called 'At Home with the Georgians'.

She is Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London.

Amanda reviews for The Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books, The Guardian and BBC Radio 4's Saturday Review, Front Row and Woman's Hour. Her thirty part History of Private Life for BBC Radio 4 is now available on CD.



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