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Politics and Philanthropy

Seminar Questions


  • Why did voluntary activity increase so extensively after 1780?
  • Was female philanthropic activity a 'maternal' act?
  • What were the practical and intellectual experiences that shaped female philanthropy and their writing on philanthropy?
  • Was female philanthropy a private act of altruism or a female incursion into the public sphere?
  • Was there a difference between 'middle-class' and 'aristocratic' philanthropic activities?

Key reading

F Prochaska, ‘Women in English Philanthropy, 1790-1830’, International Review of Social History, 1974

Alison Twells, The civilising mission and the English middle-class (Basingstoke, 2008) Introduction

Sarah Richardson, The Political Worlds of Women: Gender and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain , Chp 3.

D W Elliott, The Angel Out of the House (University Press of Virginia, 2002) Introduction

Please can you also research in the Oxford DNB the philanthropic work of the following (considerthe questions above when assessing their contributions):

Angela Burdett Coutts

Lady Newburgh

Hannah Kilham

Josephine Butler

Mary Carpenter

Octavia Hill

Further Reading

J Gerrard, ‘Lady Bountiful: women of the landed class and rural philanthropy’, Victorian Studies, 1987

Martin Gorsky, Patterns of Philanthropy, esp ch 7

Seth Koven, 'Borderlands' in Seth Koven and Sonya Michel (eds), Mothers of a new world : maternalist politics and the origins of welfare states

R J Morris, 'Voluntary Societies and British Urban Elites, 1780-1870: an analysis', Historical Journal, 1982, pp.95- 118

F Prochaska, Women and Philanthropy in Nineteenth-century England

Jane Rendall, Origins of Modern Feminism

Kim Reynolds, Aristocratic women and political society in Victorian Britain, pp. 91-128

Anne Summers, ‘A Home from Home’ in Burman, Fit Work for Women

Alison Twells, ‘Let all begin well at home: class, ethnicity and Christian motherhood’ in Yeo, Radical Femininity

Alex Tyrell, ‘Women’s mission and pressure group politics in Britain, 1825-60’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library, 1980