Home and away: a Scottish schoolmistress in colonial Australia and lowland Scotland in the second half of the nineteenth century
History of Education Quarterly, 51, (1), . (doi:10.1111/j.1748-5959.2010.00309.x).
This article examines the stereotype of the middle-class Victorian woman limited to a life of domesticity and dependency through a case study of a lower middle-class Scottish woman, Jane Hamilton (1827-1898), daughter of a Presbyterian minister. In the early 1860s, the Reverend David Essdaile noted that ‘a large proportion of ministers’ daughters must depend upon their own exertions’. Jane’s life exemplified that imperative. She also spent a decade in Australia, returning to Scotland in 1870. Emigration resulted in a rich collection of family letters, which highlight a number of themes central to women’s history, and allow us to question some of our assumptions about them. These include the notion of separate spheres for the sexes, the relationship between Presbyterianism and patriarchy, the condition of middle-class girls’ education in Victorian Scotland, their employment opportunities at home and in the colonies, and the position of married women. The letters allow us a fascinating glimpse into the complexity of the relationship between women and the family economy among the lower middle class of the nineteenth century, and show how central family, religion and education were to the middle-class identity, both at home and in the colonies
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