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Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors'

Victorian Writing by Women on Women

Second Edition

Susan Hamilton (editor)

ISBN: 9781551116082

Publication Date: Jul 2004

Format: Paperback

As much as fifteen percent of the essays in Victorian periodicals were by women, yet even the best of these pieces were allowed by the male dominated world of scholarship to sink from view. This anthololgy makes available again some of the best of Victorian writing by women.

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  • Author Biography
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Pardon me; I must seem to you so stupid! Why is the property of the woman who commits Murder, and the property of the woman who commits Matrimony, dealt with alike by your law?"

So ends the "little allegory" in conversational form with which Frances Power Cobbe opens the 1868 essay that gives this collection its title. Cobbe was a widely read essayist of remarkable lucidity and power; her pieces display incisive wit and remarkable focus as she returns repeatedly to "the woman question," but it was typical of the time that when Cobbe died she was described in the Wellesley Index to Victorian periodicals as a "miscellaneous writer."

Cobbe was not alone; as much as 15 per cent of the essays in Victorian periodicals were written by women, yet even the best of these pieces were allowed by the male-dominated world of scholarship to disappear from print. This anthology makes available again some of the best Victorian writing by women.

The second edition has been revised and updated; additions include a chronology and an essay by Frances Power Cobbe on the education of women.


This is an indispensable collection for all readers of nineteenth-century women's writing and women's history. It brings together a range of key texts, many long out of print, around which so much contemporary debate and controversy raged. The second edition of this ground-breaking anthology will be welcomed by those interested in Victorian literature and culture and the nineteenth-century woman. It is one of the most imaginative and useful anthologies to be published in the last decade." - Joanne Shattock, University of Leicester

"For the second edition, Hamilton's invaluable anthology has been attractively redesigned and includes fully updated lists of secondary sources, a helpful chronology of events and legislation related to the 'woman question,' and one more complete entry, Cobbe's 'The Education of Women, and How it Would be Affected by University Examinations.' This is an indispensable volume." - Rohan Maitzen, Dalhousie University
Pages 272
Dimensions 229 x 152 x 19
Date Published 30 Jul 2004
Publisher Broadview Press
Subject/s Feminism & feminist theory  



  • "The Milliners"
    Biographical Note


  • "Female Industry"
    Biographical Note


  • "Celibacy v. Marriage"
    "‘What Shall We Do with Our Old Maids?'"
    "The Education of Women, and How it Would be Affected by UniversityExaminations"
    "‘Criminals, Idiots, Women, And Minors'"
    "Wife-torture in England"
    Biographical Note


  • "The Girl of the Period"
    "The Modern Revolt"
    "The Wild Women: as Politicians"
    "The Wild Women: as Social Insurgents"
    Biographical Note


  • "The Condition of Women"
    "The Grievances of Women"
    Biographical Note

HELEN TAYLOR (1831-1907)

  • "Women and Criticism"
    Biographical Note


  • "The Emancipation of Women"
    Biographical Note

MONA CAIRD (1854-1932)

  • "Marriage"
    "A Defence of the So-called ‘Wild Women'"
    Biographical Note

Works Cited and Recommended Reading

Susan Hamilton, a Professor in the English Department at the University of Alberta, has written widely on Victorian women writers and Victorian culture.

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