The Association for Promoting the Education of Women- Lectures in Oxford Lecture Programme-1


Gertrude’s Commentary: 

Oh, how I would love to take these new classes! It would be so different and progressive for a woman from here to go to school in Oxford. I could live my dream as a writer. Lucy says have the talent, just a few classes to perfect my skills and I could be published. Not only would I get to experience higher education, but I would also be surrounded by many other women like me who want to achieve big things, which would be so inspirational. I would get to travel the world and experience a new life from the one I know. A fresh start in a new place where I can experience new things would open my mind and allow my writing to be that much better. While I would prefer the literature class on Wednesday and Friday, if father says that would be too much time away from home, then I can take the course that is only on Fridays. Maybe I could write a paper proficient enough to earn a scholarship. Then father would definitely let me go, as long as Aunt Caroline does not know. I dread her finding out about writing school because I know I would hear an earful about how I should focus on finding a husband instead. It would be so amazing to have this opportunity, then maybe if I do well, I could convince Aunt Caroline that my future can be different from the one she says I must have. I would much rather be a successful writer than a wife. Oh, how boring and standard that would be. If I could become a published writer than I would have accomplished something in this life. 


Editorial’s Commentary: 

Oxford Royalle Academy’s, “A History of Women's Education,” speaks about how high formal education was not something achievable for many women at this time. In fact, the article says, “The University of London was the first in the UK to award degrees to women, which it did in 1878.” (A History of Women's Education in the UK) The pamphlet Gertrude has is from 1883, which is only a few years after any women received a degree. The association which created the pamphlet is called, “The Association for Promoting the Education of Women, showing that at this time, previous women did not have the opportunity to have high education. Also, based on her commentary about how “different” it would be for her to take the class, one could notice that it was still not common for women to get a higher education. She also compares this dream of becoming a writer to being a wife. With that idea, it is assumed that the future her elders have planned for her is being a “boring and standard” wife. This shows us that traditionally, Victorian women were raised to become a wife and mother, but Gertrude wants to accomplish more in her life. Gertrude also says that she might get to go to school, “ long as Aunt Caroline doesn’t know.” This shows that Aunt Caroline is an Old Woman who believes in the traditional lifestyle of getting married. Gertrude’s commentary suggests what Victorian society was like because it explains how New Woman want to achieve new things, while Old Women think that the main goal in life is to get married.  

“A History of Women's Education in the UK.” Oxford Royale Academy, 16 Mar. 2021, 

The Association for Promoting the Education of Women- Lectures in Oxford Lecture Programme. [Pamphlet]. At: Place: Somerville College Archive, University of Oxford. Available through: Adam Matthew, Marlborough. Defining Gender, Association for Promoting the Education of Women Lectures [Accessed April 03, 2021]. 


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