Education during the Victorian Era

            Education changed much during the Victorian era, both for the poor and rich. In 1933, Parliament authorized for sums of money to be provided to build schools for the poor children of England. However, many poorer families needed their children to be home and often had to supply their children with school materials (papers, pens, and ink, etc.), which made it even more difficult for the people who couldn’t afford it. However, the rich didn’t face these issues. Both social class and gender played a role in education. It was boys from rich, upper-class families that had the best options for education. This was because private schools were male-only and expensive, so lower-class families were unable to send their children to them. Conversely, upper-class women were expected to learn skills that would be useful for marriage from their homes. Both the gender and social class aspect of education can be seen in Middlemarch through the characters Rosamond and Fred. Rosamond has been trained in ‘womanly’ duties like entertainment, as she is described as playing piano and singing for guests. However, Fred is expected to go back to university.

            I am the youngest woman of my family, daughter to the wealthiest man in my town. I feel as though I have waited my whole life for marriage. I have been trained in all of the ways to help someone feel both attended to and entertained. Cooking is something I have been taught from a young age; it takes up most of my earliest memories. It will be important for keeping husband content. At least, that is what I am told. I remember being trained to play piano from a young age, and I am now able to entertain my family and our guests with ease. I am similar in age to my brother; however, he is expected to travel to England to study at university. I would love to travel somewhere like he is, but I suppose that I will wait for my honeymoon before worrying myself with something like that.

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

circa. 1829 to circa. 1833

Parent Chronology: