Daily Life of Victorian Women

by Lydia Murdoch


The 1861 census in England listed women employed as prison officers, pawnbrokers, wheelwrights, stone quarriers, and fishmongers.

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Cover image for Daily Life of Victorian Women

October 2013


Pages 286
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics World History/Culture

Explores the complexities of the lived experiences of Victorian women in the home, the workplace, and the empire as well as the ideals of womanhood and femininity that developed during the 19th century.

Contrary to popular misconception, many Victorian women performed manual labor for wages directly alongside men, had political voice before women's suffrage, and otherwise contributed significantly to society outside of the domestic sphere. Daily Life of Victorian Women documents the varied realities of the lives of Victorian women; provides in-depth comparative analysis of the experiences of women from all classes, especially the working class; and addresses changes in their lives and society over time. The book covers key social, intellectual, and geographical aspects of women's lives, with main chapters on gender and ideals of womanhood, the state, religion, home and family, the body, childhood and youth, paid labor and professional work, urban life, and imperialism.


  • Gives extensive attention to the experiences of working-class women as well as elite women
  • Examines the connections and seeming contradictions between ideology and experience—for example, why did the Victorian concept of women as the "angel in the house" remain so powerful if the reality of women's experiences was largely unlike this ideal?
  • Spotlights topics from recent scholarship on women and imperialism
  • Provides clear, engaging information for undergraduates and general readers that is easily searchable by topic
  • Includes many primary source selections and illustrations, making it a valuable classroom resource
Series Description

Daily Life

What was life really like for ordinary people in other cultures throughout history? How did they raise their children? What did they do for fun? From sexual mores in ancient Egypt to resistance music in modern Latin America, and from the fashion sense of the Mongols to the importance of film in modern India, the world comes alive in the indispensable hands-on volumes of this award-winning series. A truly interdisciplinary resource, the Daily Life series covers arts; religion; food; literature; language; romance; rites of passage and coming of age; marriage customs; social and government structure; sickness and cures; warfare; sports and games; holidays; festivals; and more. With direct ties to the curriculum and supported by the most current research, these authoritative volumes are organized in an accessible narrative chapter format, and supplemented with photos, maps, and other ready-reference materials, Daily Life volumes are ideal sources for general readers and students of world history, United States history, social studies, anthropology, religion, literature, arts, and more.

Each volume provides:
• An exploration of complex eras in history on a level accessible to students and general readers
• Authoritative coverage stemming from the most current scholarship and recent discoveries
• A focus on social rather than political history in key curricular areas, providing an in-depth understanding of the nuts and bolts of daily life
• Interactive, exciting details such as recipes, sheet music, rules for games, song lyrics, and more
Author Info

Lydia Murdoch is associate professor of history and former director of the Women's Studies Program at Vassar College. She is author of Imagined Orphans: Poor Families, Child Welfare, and Contested Citizenship in London and is currently researching Victorian attitudes towards grief and child mortality.



"The writing is clear and should be accessible to college students or students in an advanced high-school class. Black-and-white photographs and images dot the text. The volume concludes with a listing of suggestions for further reading and an index. Recommended for most academic and larger public libraries."Booklist

"The text provides worthwhile insights into what it was like to be a woman during Victorian England."ARBA

"Murdoch offers a new perspective on the lives of Victorian women. . . . A worthwhile addition to public and academic libraries."Library Journal

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