Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Key Texts


J Burstyn, Victorian education and the ideal of womanhood

Julia Bush, “‘Special strengths for their own special duties’: women, higher education and gender conservatism in late Victorian Britain’, History of Education, 2005 [online]

Philip Gardner, ‘Literacy, learning and education’ in Chris Williams (ed.), A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Britain


Jonathan Payne, ‘Literacy and the working class’ (review essay), Labour History Review, 2002 [online]

D Reeder, Urban Education in the 19th century


Gillian Sutherland, ‘Education’ in F M L Thompson, The Cambridge Social History of Britain, vol. 3

Keith Vernon, ‘Calling the tune: British Universities and the state, 1880-1914’, History of Education, 2001 [online]

E. G. West, ‘Literacy and the Industrial Revolution’, Economic History Review, 1978 [online]



  • Trace the changes in Victorian education over the nineteenth century
  • How do factors such as class and gender affect the education of Victorian children?
  • Which factors influenced the literacy levels of the working class?
  • Were the education of women/girls and feminism necessarily linked?
  • What role did the state have in the development of British universities?


Further Reading



 A Digby, Children, school and society in nineteenth-century England


C Dyhouse, Girls growing up in late Victorian and Edwardian England


M Gomershall, ‘The education of working class girls’, History of Education, 1988

J Hurt, Elementary schooling and the working classes, 1860-1918


R Johnson, ‘Educational policy and social control’, Past and Present, 1970

J Purvis, ‘Separate spheres and inequality in the education of working class women’, History of Education, 1981

June Purvis, A History of Women’s Education in England


M Sanderson, ‘Social change and elementary education in industrial Lancashire’, Northern History, 1968

W Stephens, ‘Early Victorian Coventry: education in an industrial community’ in A Everitt, Perspectives in English Urban History


G Sutherland, Elementary education in the nineteenth century


G Sutherland (ed.) Education




Elementary education


M Bryant, The unexpected revolution: a study in the history of the education of women and girls

J Burstyn, Victorian education and the ideal of womanhood


L Davidoff and C Hall, Family Fortunes, esp pp. 234-40, 289-99

S Delamont and S Duffin (eds), The nineteenth-century woman: her cultural and physical world, ch by Delamont

Carol Dyhouse, Girls growing up in late Victorian and Edwardian England, chs 2,3 and 5

S Fletcher, Feminists and Bureaucrats: a study in the development of girls’ education in the 19th century


M Gomershall, Working class girls in 19th century England


J Hurt, Education in Evolution: church, state, society and popular education 1800-1870


H Silver and J Lawson, A social history of education in England


B Simon and I Bradley (eds), The Victorian public school. Studies in the development of an educational institution

Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians, ch on Thomas Arnold



Higher education


R D Anderson, Universities and Elites in Britain

W H Armytage, Civic universities: aspects of a British tradition

M Bryant, The unexpected revolution


Carol Dyhouse, No distinction of sex? Women in British universities, 1870-1939


N Harte, The University of London, 1836-1986

D R Jones, The origins of civic universities: Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool

M Vicinus, Independent women, ch 4

 George Cruikshank