Victorian women responded to a competition in a magazine Tit-Bits, asking them ‘Why are you single?’, and they had some choice words to say on the matter!
Women living in Victorian England have been stereotyped as prudish, shy, and uptight ladies who are not complete until they find a man to ‘keep’ them. While some were seeking a partner to share their lives with, many were perfectly happy staying single, or weren’t into men in the first place…
When Tit-Bits Magazine asked women in 1889 to write in with their own reasons for spinsterhood, with the tantalising hope of winning prizes, they received more honesty than they bargained for.
A favourite in the Reading Addicts office is Miss Sparrow of Manor Place who wrote:
“Because I do not care to enlarge my menagerie of pets, and I find the animal man less docile than a dog, less affectionate than a cat, and less amusing than a monkey.”
Thanks to historian Dr Bob Nicholson on Twitter, we have a fabulous insight into the whip-smart answers the women provided, and a fascinating look at real Victorian women’s ideals. They story continued as Dr Bob Nicholson showed more information about the women who sent the magazine their answers, including one artist who, only a year after the competition, married a writer named Herbert Flowerdew.
Here's the census record for Florence Flowerdew (née Watts) from 1911. No occupation listed for her, but women's work was often under-reported. Sadly, her husband died 6 years later after reportedly struggling with depression and (possibly) a suicide attempt. pic.twitter.com/8Ztbq7IOwv— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) 17 February 2018
The next week’s issue of Tit-Bits included this quip sent in by one joker… These letters prove what humour and sense of self Victorian women had, perhaps not so different to women today.