Arguments against reform

'A learned girl is one of the most intolerable monsters of creation'.
Saturday Review
, 1869.

As to women, then the first thing of importance is to be content to be inferior to men ...Your highest duty is so often to suffer and be still ...Your deepest enjoyments are all relative.
Quoted in Deirdre Raftery, Women and Learning in English writing 1600-1900, Dublin, 1997, p. 134.
Women who have stored their minds with Latin and Greek seldom have much knowledge of pies and puddings, nor do they enjoy the hard and uninteresting work of attending to the wants of little children.
Quoted in June Purvis, A history of women's education in England, London, 1991, p.112.


  1. Identify three attitudes revealed in the arguments against women's education. Briefly suggest one reason for each attitude.


  1. Compose an article that Sarah Sewell might write for a women's magazine on the education of girls today.

  2. Compose an 1840s 'problem page' with letters and replies on the topic of women's education.

  3. Role play a mothers' meeting in 1840 where Sarah Stickney Ellis delivers a brief lecture called 'On the education of girls'. The class role play the meeting where mothers introduce the speaker, ask questions, propose a vote of thanks and engage in discussion after the lecture.
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