When I read Clare Balding’s My Animals and Other Family, one thing really shocked me. Her mother was not allowed to go to Cambridge because Clare’s grandmother said she wouldn’t have any ‘bluestockings in the family’. It was the 1960s!. Just goes to show we shouldn’t assume that education for women has been one long march of progress. Reading Jane Robinson’s book, I was impressed by the amount of social mobility in the early days. A surprising number of girls from very poor backgrounds did make it to university, often pushed there by teachers who helped them get grants and scholarships and even took on their parents. Things are not yet perfect on that score. I found an article in The Girl’s Own Annual for 1905 saying that ‘in twenty years’ time’ people would be laughing at the idea that women should not have an Oxford education. If only!
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