In November, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be presenting a new exhibition titled Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal. It features four gorgeous Victorian dolls and their equally gorgeous Victorian wardrobes. The dolls—known as Miss Fanchon, Miss G. Townsend, Miss French Mary, and Marie Antoinette—were all made in France during the 1860s and 1870s. They have painted bisque heads, leather bodies, and measure between 18 and 22 inches in height. The Philadelphia Museum of Art calls them “the ultimate toy for privileged girls of this period.” But these dolls were much more than mere toys. They were models of perfect Victorian womanhood.[…]Continue Reading
“If you don’t take care my gel, you’ll turn into a radical like that Wollstonecraft woman.”
The Stanforth Secrets, Jo Beverley, 1989.
Born on April 27th 1759, Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792 when she was only thirty-three years old. In it, she argued against the natural inferiority of women, writing that “…it cannot be demonstrated that woman is essentially inferior to man, because she has always been subjugated” and that it was the neglected education of her “fellow creatures” that was the primary source of their misery.
As modern readers, it seems to be a perfectly reasonable, wholly uncontroversial argument. Indeed, basic commonsense. But what of readers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, you ask? Surely they must have been scandalized by Wollstonecraft’s arguments for equality.[…]Continue Reading