Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education, by Jane Robinson

After doing a lot of reading about life in outport Newfoundland in the early 20th century, I veered in a different direction with my research for That Forgetful Shore and started reading about university education for women in England during the same period. The basic premise of my story is that one of the two main characters gets the opportunity to leave her outport home and further her education, and she ends up in England in 1921, which led me to this book, Bluestockings.  This is a wonderful history of the struggle for higher education for women in England, full of lively anecdotes as well as information, highly readable, and also balanced — while it celebrates the accomplishments of the “bluestockings” it also recognizes honestly the difficulties they faced when career opportunities for women lagged far behind women’s desire for, and ability to obtain, higher education. For those who didn’t choose to become teachers, there were often limited opportunities to use the education they had worked so hard to obtain. Bluestockings is a book I highly recommend to anyone at all interested in the history of women’s education.

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