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Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education

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Robinson presents the eye-opening and inspiring story of the first young women who overcame all the odds to get their education and attend university. Using the words of the women themselves, 'Bluestockings' charts the fight for and expansion of higher education for women from 1869 through to the 1930s.


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Robinson presents the eye-opening and inspiring story of the first young women who overcame all the odds to get their education and attend university. Using the words of the women themselves, 'Bluestockings' charts the fight for and expansion of higher education for women from 1869 through to the 1930s.

30 review for Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I have enjoyed other words by Jane Robinson, including, “A Force to Be Reckoned With,” and “Hearts and Minds,” so I was intrigued to read this book, about women’s fight for an education. As someone who has been involved in education most of my working life, and who is a very bookish female, I found this an interesting, inspirational read. This begins in the 1870’s and generally takes us to the period around WWII. As in other social histories that Robinson has written, she tells the story of the I have enjoyed other words by Jane Robinson, including, “A Force to Be Reckoned With,” and “Hearts and Minds,” so I was intrigued to read this book, about women’s fight for an education. As someone who has been involved in education most of my working life, and who is a very bookish female, I found this an interesting, inspirational read. This begins in the 1870’s and generally takes us to the period around WWII. As in other social histories that Robinson has written, she tells the story of the women involved in a very personal way. In this book, she uses diaries, reports and letters, to paint a picture of events of those time – of how women fought for a university education, for better schools, and how they threatened the male establishment by their desire to be educated. For much of this book, women were fighting for the intention of education for its own sake. If they were to work, after university, it was usually as teachers and few career paths were open to them. No woman graduated from Cambridge until 1948 and yet female students were all aware of how they were, often, being tolerated, and how important it was that they change the system slowly. Of course, many of the anecdotes in this book are unintentionally humorous. The professor who,for example, appearing in his lecture hall to find only female students present, looked studiously above the heads of those present and announced that, as nobody had come, the lecture was cancelled… Mostly, though, this is a joyous read. Of women discovering freedom, friendship and knowledge. Of how, gradually, women gained ground and opened doors, rather than kicking them in, but opened them for the good of those women following them. I would be interested to know how the male academics, who argued that women could not compete with men, would feel about a current education system, in which girls outperform boys in every subject, and throughout their entire educational career – from primary school to university. There is now still a gender gap, but perhaps it is time to address the under-achievement of boys. Still, that is going off topic and, without doubt, I am personally grateful , and indebted to, the educational pioneers that appear in this book, for their refusal to accept barriers to education for female students.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I find non-fiction books like this fascinating, particularly when they explore education and the suffrage movement in detail (which, incidentally, Bluestockings does). I loved the way in which Robinson set out the history of the female fight for education, and admired the fact that she based the book only within England and Scotland. Her use of sources – quotes and case studies – to back up particular facts or statements worked very well, and I was pleased that she did not rely too heavily upon I find non-fiction books like this fascinating, particularly when they explore education and the suffrage movement in detail (which, incidentally, Bluestockings does). I loved the way in which Robinson set out the history of the female fight for education, and admired the fact that she based the book only within England and Scotland. Her use of sources – quotes and case studies – to back up particular facts or statements worked very well, and I was pleased that she did not rely too heavily upon them, as some historical books which I have read in the past have done. Without the women outlined in Bluestockings, I doubt that I would be as well educated as I am now. It is thanks to them, really, that all children and young people have the same educational rights and opportunities to study today, regardless of their sex or upbringing. I am so very grateful for both their determination and their bravery. A great and highly recommended book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bobby

    I asked for this book for Christmas because it sounded interesting; but also because I think it's entirely too easy for anyone in higher or further education to become disillusioned with it. While it annoys me that women may feel any more grateful than men for access to knowledge and the chance to earn a degree: it's undeniable that if it wasn't for the diligence of the determined few and the relative success of introducing the first women to University and degree programmes, things could have b I asked for this book for Christmas because it sounded interesting; but also because I think it's entirely too easy for anyone in higher or further education to become disillusioned with it. While it annoys me that women may feel any more grateful than men for access to knowledge and the chance to earn a degree: it's undeniable that if it wasn't for the diligence of the determined few and the relative success of introducing the first women to University and degree programmes, things could have been very different today. It was difficult while reading not to feel guilt at taking education for granted when it was so recently denied to women; but this isn't some dry biography that outlines and moralises the fight for the right to education. This book is full of wit and sentimental anecdotes which show just how far some women, and their families, were determined to go to get them into University. It shows that it was not all plain sailing but ends on a reassuringly positive note which is uplifting even though we are now living in the future that they helped make happen.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Geraldine

    Easy to read book, covering a subject where I don't think there is much competition for books. But also a missed opportunity. Unfortunately, this is yet another example, like Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War where an Oxbridge English Literature type attempts to write a sociology book and bases it on anecdotes of the Oxbridge attending classes. A book that purported to be about women in Higher Education was 4/5 about Oxbridge; this gave a sense that t Easy to read book, covering a subject where I don't think there is much competition for books. But also a missed opportunity. Unfortunately, this is yet another example, like Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War where an Oxbridge English Literature type attempts to write a sociology book and bases it on anecdotes of the Oxbridge attending classes. A book that purported to be about women in Higher Education was 4/5 about Oxbridge; this gave a sense that their exceptionalism (eg not actually awarding degrees to women who passed the requisite exams) was the norm. The complete absence of data made this rather a meaningless exercise. I appreciate that in the end the writer had to rely on anecdotes and accounts that exist. But she tells us nothing about her methodology: how she sought material, and how she decided what to include or reject. We had endless tales of the restricted behaviour at Oxford and Cambridge. We also had brief fleeting references to women who studied at Durham, Birmingham or in London, and commuted daily from their family home. I can't see how Oxbridge's boarding school culture could possibly have been imposed on such women as they moved as free subjects around the cities their sisters worked in. She name checked Nottingham several times but there was only one brief example given of Nottingham women students. The book ends with a reflection on what the women did after graduation. There is some attempt at data, but told in the style of an Eng Lit type who doesn't know she doesn't understand numbers. There was no attempt to set this in the context of the women who didn't go to University. There was certainly no attempt to provide any class analysis. She made brief passing mention to Teacher Training colleges and then ignored their existence. Without data it's impossible to know, but I suspect that Teacher Training Colleges played a much greater role in women's Higher Education than Oxbridge. She references her own time at Oxford studying English Lit and sighs that the only career suggested to her was teaching. I actually don't believe this. She's only 9 years older than me, and even when I was at school, girls were being encouraged to think about careers in engineering, law, accounting, medical professions (not just nurses and doctors), commerce and industry. Perhaps there was a problem with the particular Oxbridge college she went to. After all, nobody who attended that college had ever graduated in Chemistry, become a research scientist, then a barrister and then Prime Minister...oh, wait, her Oxford College uniquely has produced a Prime Minister with a natural science degree. (Admittedly, no one would have advised the then Margaret Hilda Roberts to take up teaching!) It would have been useful to see data on the career destinations of women who graduated from Imperial and Leicester, and how that changed between the 19th century and 1939, when the book ends. There's an air running through it that University was open for all, as long as their families penny pinched to pay for it. This is coupled with an assumption that 'middle class' was the norm. No, it wasn't, not until after World War II. Even in the early 80s fewer people (proportionately) passed 5 O-levels than go to Uni nowadays. There were some interesting ideas to take away, although none of them new to me. 1. In the 19th century and into the 20th century, there was a cult of 'making it up'. Best exemplified by Maudsley, who made stuff up, without any evidence, in order to rail against women being educated. I find it appalling that all those super-educated chaps from their splendid public schools and elite universities couldn't come up with the simple statement/question "Prove it". 2. Men are such delicate flowers, aren't they? Protecting their precious little positions and deluding themselves that they've earned them on merit. Of course, mediocre and useless males fear being pushed aside by excellent or just competent women (similarly, race, class). But they weren't exactly demonstrating intelligence or receptiveness to new ideas, were they? But she offers no reflections on or analysis of these shortcomings. 3. I struggle to accept the idea of academia for its own sake. I went to Uni because it was expected of me and because I knew it was the key to career, status and decent salary. I had/have a few friends who went onto further studies, and I can see the benefit in their areas of engineering and natural science. But these pitiful women who just wanted to learn, and then stayed on these in ghastly Oxford Colleges divorced from reality, teaching subjects divorced from the real world - even when the course title seems rooted in reality. I recall in 1985 being interviewed by a frightening specimen at Oxford. I thought some of my school teachers were unworldly but she took the biscuit. It was partly her physical appearance (moles with hairs, malformed yellow teeth, spectacles 30 years out of date, tweed suit), it was partly her convoluted way of speaking - both the physical act of manipulating her jaw round words and the dreary, monotone of her tedious long winded delivery but it was an overall sense of not being rooted in reality. The sort who went straight from Ladies boarding school to Ladies college to being a Lady academic and had no life experience. It was something that irritated me in Testament of Youth, this idea of studying English Literature, in order to learn more about Eng Lit, in order to perpetuate a circle jerk of redundant futility. I know I'm being unfair, it wasn't like they had the golden career opportunities of my generation, or even Margaret Thatcher's. And I know I'd be excoriated by self-serving academics for saying so, but, really, University should be a means to an end. My father was an engineering graduate and became a chartered engineer. My mother's degree in Social Administration allowed her to become a professional social worker. My brother studied medicine and became a doctor. I studied Politics and became a Public Finance professional. My cousin - older than this writer - graduated in Engineering from Leeds and went into publishing. I've read books this year by both Ruth Rendell and PD James who have the dull trope of a bright girl going 'up' to Oxbridge to 'read' English Literature. I'll forgive them because, products of their time, University was not an option, notwithstanding their middle class backgrounds. I've also read Virginia Nicholson's book and now this, both Oxbridge Eng Lit grads who grandiosely think they can write what they think is 'history'. But because of their useless degrees, presumably preceded by poor choice of A Levels, neither is capable of knowing how wrong they are. Both have written interesting books, recounting anecdotes of pioneering women. But neither has noticed that they are trying to write about demography, and social trends and have ventured into Social Science without the necessary skills, or any awareness of what is lacking. So, a readable book and not uninteresting, but shallow and disappointing, and a shadow of what it could have been. A real disservice to the women she strived to honour.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    As the title suggests, this book discusses the first women in Britain to attend university. Broadly covering from the mid-late 19th century up until the second World War, it describes the opposition faced by prospective students, including doctors who believed that education could cause infertility (!), the belief that men would not want to marry an educated woman, and the widely held belief that women just did not need to be educated, when their sole purpose in life was to marry and have childr As the title suggests, this book discusses the first women in Britain to attend university. Broadly covering from the mid-late 19th century up until the second World War, it describes the opposition faced by prospective students, including doctors who believed that education could cause infertility (!), the belief that men would not want to marry an educated woman, and the widely held belief that women just did not need to be educated, when their sole purpose in life was to marry and have children. Rather than giving a chronological account of how universities came to accept female students (it’s worth noting that Cambridge University would not award degrees to females until 1948, although females were allowed to study there prior to that date – Oxford beat them by 28 years by finally agreeing to award degrees to women in 1920), it focuses instead on what university life was like for women during the period covered, such as when women could only talk to men when there was a chaperone present, people would be expelled for extremely minor transgressions. The book is packed with personal anecdotes, and includes many excerpts from the diaries and writings of former students. As expected, there are some truly inspirational stories included, as well as some more sombre accounts of student life from those who were not happy with university life, and found themselves ill-equipped to cope with their new circumstances. There are tales of families who struggled against convention and lack of finances, to send their daughter(s) to university to get an education, and stories of others who found help elsewhere. It also makes the point that for a very long time, having a degree was not considered any advantage in looking for a career, unless you wanted to be a teacher – indeed it was practically expected that if a woman did pursue a career after her degree, it would be in teaching. The book is inspiring and well written…definitely recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kate Millin

    I found this book quite inspiring as the women who first attained university educations had to put up with a lot of hardship, and fight, for the privilege that many of us now take for granted. It makes me realise that we should make the most of the opportunities we have and ensure that we do what we can to help others to realise their potential. At the end of the nineteenth century, when the female brain was considered five ounces lighter than the male brain, five women bravely enrolled at univer I found this book quite inspiring as the women who first attained university educations had to put up with a lot of hardship, and fight, for the privilege that many of us now take for granted. It makes me realise that we should make the most of the opportunities we have and ensure that we do what we can to help others to realise their potential. At the end of the nineteenth century, when the female brain was considered five ounces lighter than the male brain, five women bravely enrolled at university for the first time in Britain. From wildly different backgrounds, and with only a passion for learning in common, they faced dismissal as mere 'bonnets', and wild rioting when a vote was taken to offer these 'undergraduettes' a recognised degree. But from their teachers and parents they enjoyed unimaginable kindness. In one case a teacher pretended her student had gained a scholarship and paid for her education!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Sinclair

    Fascinating, well-researched look at the history of English women in education. It is astonishing to think how recently (and reluctantly) women were allowed access to university education, and made me grateful for my own. By its nature a little narrow in focus (there's little to no mention, for instance, of the kind of barriers non-white would be scholars would have faced) but a must read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gemma (Non Fic Books)

    This was a really fun introduction to the fight for the opportunity to attend university (and graduate) that women had in England. Jane Robinson strikes a good balance between accessibility and information, making this book interesting yet easy to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Rose

    I was worried to begin with that this would be a bit dry, but either it improves after the first chapter or two, or I just got used to the writing style. By the end I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Informative, interesting and spattered with feminist commentary (even if it's often fairly gentle!), although a little repetitive in places. I wouldn't call it groundbreaking or particularly eye-opening but it's definitely worth a read. Especially if, like me, you enjoy the personal side of history ra I was worried to begin with that this would be a bit dry, but either it improves after the first chapter or two, or I just got used to the writing style. By the end I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Informative, interesting and spattered with feminist commentary (even if it's often fairly gentle!), although a little repetitive in places. I wouldn't call it groundbreaking or particularly eye-opening but it's definitely worth a read. Especially if, like me, you enjoy the personal side of history rather than the dates and major world events side.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brittany (Lady Red)

    This was fantastic! As an MA student struggling with burnout, this helped remind me why I am still pursuing an education.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kizzie

    An amazing collection of insights into the lives of the first women to go to university. I would have liked a little more on universities other than Oxbridge, but definitely opened my eyes to something I had never considered before.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    The title of this book - "Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education" - makes it sound like it will be about women's education generally, around the world. The summary does nothing to dispel this impression. Actually, the book only talks about England, and then narrows its scope even further by spending most of the time talking about Oxbridge (guess where the author went to). So, not as interesting as it sounds.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Josie

    [Audiobook version] I loved listening to this! The stories of the first women to fight for an education were sometimes amusing, sometimes depressing, but always interesting. Girls lived such quirky lives back then! Not to mention dangerous -- there were endless stories of them almost killing themselves in sub-standard chemistry labs, or nearly drowning in the river when they took the boat out on a stormy day. And there were some wonderful recurring characters. I loved hearing about Constance Mayn [Audiobook version] I loved listening to this! The stories of the first women to fight for an education were sometimes amusing, sometimes depressing, but always interesting. Girls lived such quirky lives back then! Not to mention dangerous -- there were endless stories of them almost killing themselves in sub-standard chemistry labs, or nearly drowning in the river when they took the boat out on a stormy day. And there were some wonderful recurring characters. I loved hearing about Constance Maynard, who told her parents that she'd prefer an education over a pony when they tried to bribe her into dropping the idea of going to university. Or Gwendoline Freeman, who was given a powder compact before she left for university, but didn't have a clue how to use it. "She understood that now her school days were behind her, she was expected to wear her hair up, but it was slippery and disobedient, despite being stapled all over with hairpins. Glamourous undergraduette she was not, and it was worrying." It was also heartening to listen to the tales of the tutors who encouraged their girls to aim high, sometimes funding their "scholarships" out of their own pockets, and celebrated their successes. I laughed so much at the following letter, from a tutor to a girl who got a first in Classics at Somerville in 1935 after a colourful undergraduate career: "Now that's the way I like things done! Miss a term with tonsillitis, go to a few royal balls and occasionally to bed with a clergyman, throw in an embarras gastrique on the eve of schools, and after that it really is worthwhile to say you got a first in greats. You're quite the most sporting horse I ever jockied! As far as I can see you did it all in the last lap and I am hugely delighted. My best jubilations!" HOW WONDERFUL IS THAT. I feel almost jealous that I wasn't a part of the bluestocking revolution! My years at uni were nowhere near as eventful, it has to be said.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty Darbyshire

    I should read more history books - finding ones I like is the problem. This book is all about the experiences of the first women to attend English universities starting in the 1830s or so and running more or less up to the time that degrees were being granted to women by pretty much all universities, Cambridge being one of the last to permit that in 1948. As someone who grew up expecting to go to university and expecting that all opportunities would be open to me it was a bit of an eye opener. E I should read more history books - finding ones I like is the problem. This book is all about the experiences of the first women to attend English universities starting in the 1830s or so and running more or less up to the time that degrees were being granted to women by pretty much all universities, Cambridge being one of the last to permit that in 1948. As someone who grew up expecting to go to university and expecting that all opportunities would be open to me it was a bit of an eye opener. Even the author mentions that she was expected to go into a teaching career as a woman armed with a 1970s degree, something that was off the radar by the time I was getting my 1990s degree. I'm very glad that these women paved the way for me! It's a fascinating read full of strong characters (not always the "undergraduettes" themselves) and happy endings but also the stories of those for whom things went wrong, who weren't in the right places, those who got educations they didn't want and those who didn't get the educations they wanted. I loved reading it and have a new perspective on things as a result. It's one of those things that you're aware of but hearing some more of the story is welcome.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    I thought this was a really fascinating book, and very readable. Women today have much to be grateful for, to the women whose stories Jane Robinson recounts. They faced almost unbelievable prejudice and so many women desperate to further themselves and learn as much as possible were destined never to complete their courses, due to family constraints or the pressures they placed upon themselves. I really enjoyed reading about the life of women's colleges, the cocoa parties and the draconian rules I thought this was a really fascinating book, and very readable. Women today have much to be grateful for, to the women whose stories Jane Robinson recounts. They faced almost unbelievable prejudice and so many women desperate to further themselves and learn as much as possible were destined never to complete their courses, due to family constraints or the pressures they placed upon themselves. I really enjoyed reading about the life of women's colleges, the cocoa parties and the draconian rules and the way rebellious girls found to get round them. The women themselves speak to us through the extracts from letters and diaries and give a real flavour of what life away from home was like for many of these educational pioneers.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I loved it. Interesting and inspiring.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Jane Robinson explores the experiences of the first women to attend UK universities, from the late nineteenth century to the eve of WWII. She looks at both the practical experiences - food, heating, the presence of chaperones at social occasions - and issues of motivation and emotional support. Faced with prejudice and dismissive attitudes from university authorities, many tutors and even their own families, the women still found kindness, friendship and intellectual stimulation as they progress Jane Robinson explores the experiences of the first women to attend UK universities, from the late nineteenth century to the eve of WWII. She looks at both the practical experiences - food, heating, the presence of chaperones at social occasions - and issues of motivation and emotional support. Faced with prejudice and dismissive attitudes from university authorities, many tutors and even their own families, the women still found kindness, friendship and intellectual stimulation as they progressed at the vanguard of a more modern and enlightened education for women. There are some fascinating anecdotes here, alongside anecdotes from diaries, letters and even academic reports. The organisation of chapters is sometimes messy, leaping about between topics and periods, with promises to return later to certain topics. This, as well as the lack of depth, was frustrating at times. It must be acknowledged that the book covers a wide range of topics, and in some areas with limited or repetitive material, so this is probably to be expected, but I often felt I wanted more analysis or hard data to back up the anecdotal evidence. Overall, though, there is a lot within this book to remind all of us how the enthusiasm and determination of these pioneers paved the way for educational opportunities for women, and to inspire today's women as well. It is entertaining and easy to read, and I would recommend it as a light non-fiction read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    An informative book that sheds light on the important struggles through which brave women had to fight to achieve an education. There is a lot of fascinating information, ranging from the opinions of the Greats (some really not that great, in my humble opinion, given their rather not so humble opinions about women) to the individual experiences of Bluestockings at university. It's a very well-researched book. However, I didn't think it was intersectional enough. It was very 'white'; it would hav An informative book that sheds light on the important struggles through which brave women had to fight to achieve an education. There is a lot of fascinating information, ranging from the opinions of the Greats (some really not that great, in my humble opinion, given their rather not so humble opinions about women) to the individual experiences of Bluestockings at university. It's a very well-researched book. However, I didn't think it was intersectional enough. It was very 'white'; it would have been much more interesting if there were a bit more variation of the women talked about. For example, LGBTQ+ women, women of colour, foreigners (there were passing remarks about them but not explored in enough detail). I am of course aware that the bulk of the women would have been white and social stigmas at the time would have rendered research into sexuality very difficult. But there is a host of literature out there about these kinds of experiences, and it would have added a new spin and greater depth to the book. Even just a chapter might have sufficed. The lack of variation also meant that at times the chapters could become repetitive. The book is more descriptive than anything - it's a good introduction into the subject area, but if you're looking for an account of women's fight for an education to involve insightful or novel judgments of the topic, there are probably more ground-breaking accounts out there.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Unfortunately I didn't have time to read this right through, having ordered it specially from the library for a group read. Life has a way of getting in the way doesn't it! However, I did skim through it, and found it reasonably interesting. It is truly shocking to know just how long women had to fight to be educated, how many barriers were put in their way and how much persistence was required to achieve the educational freedoms we take for granted today. Even Queen Victoria disapproved of educ Unfortunately I didn't have time to read this right through, having ordered it specially from the library for a group read. Life has a way of getting in the way doesn't it! However, I did skim through it, and found it reasonably interesting. It is truly shocking to know just how long women had to fight to be educated, how many barriers were put in their way and how much persistence was required to achieve the educational freedoms we take for granted today. Even Queen Victoria disapproved of educating women as it was not, in her option, ladylike. How much talent was wasted over those generations, how many women were bored, frustrated and unfulfilled because of those outdated views? We are incredibly lucky to live at a time when women have more or less the same opportunities as men, at least in many parts of the world. If nothing else, this book helped remind me of how important it still is to support the education of women.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Athy

    I was reading this for the purposes of story research and I was fairly well satisified on that end: there were a few anecdotes and facts that I can use and I doubt I could've found them anywhere else. Luckily, I think the character I read this book for will end up going to an Oxbridge because that's definitely where the focus was in this book, which was a bummer because other universities were apparently doing a far better (and earlier) job of educating women as full students, as near equals wit I was reading this for the purposes of story research and I was fairly well satisified on that end: there were a few anecdotes and facts that I can use and I doubt I could've found them anywhere else. Luckily, I think the character I read this book for will end up going to an Oxbridge because that's definitely where the focus was in this book, which was a bummer because other universities were apparently doing a far better (and earlier) job of educating women as full students, as near equals with their male counterparts, and that would have been fascinating to read. Women attending universities in Britain in the late nineteenth century endured a lot of stuff: chauvinism and sexism at its height (they are the Victorians, after all), opposition by society at large, the lack of recognition (female students at Oxbridge, for instance, weren't allowed to be full members of the universities until very late), chaperones, and I imagine way too much mansplaining. Plus, for many of them, even with a course or study or a degree, their career paths were severely limited. I enjoyed a lot of this book, really. The anecdotes of the various bluestockings built up a great image, but quite a lot of it was more fluffy than scholarly. Which is fine! But I found myself wanting to know a bit more about...I don't know...the numbers of women attending universities at any one time, whether any of them experienced any kind of trouble at school--if there were stats for that kind of thing--, etc. What made them want to scale those many cliffs, just to attend university? Maybe I wanted something more sociological. Still, I appreciate that writing about the first women to attend and experience higher education must have been difficult, since this is the only work I've come across to discuss that particular subject.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Claire Baxter

    3.5 stars really. It had a lot of potential but didn't quite get there. Some parts were really interesting, and it puts a different light on some authors (C.S Lewis and Tolkien for example) when you read their attitudes towards women's education (no wonder they ended up writing fantasy novels) and I'd still say it is worth a read, however it just missed the mark a bit as a coherent piece of writing and in some places felt a bit repetitive or like a bunch of anecdotes loosely strung together. Sti 3.5 stars really. It had a lot of potential but didn't quite get there. Some parts were really interesting, and it puts a different light on some authors (C.S Lewis and Tolkien for example) when you read their attitudes towards women's education (no wonder they ended up writing fantasy novels) and I'd still say it is worth a read, however it just missed the mark a bit as a coherent piece of writing and in some places felt a bit repetitive or like a bunch of anecdotes loosely strung together. Still interesting to see what these women were up against and how far we have/haven't come.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anatl

    Interesting account of the first women who went to university in England. The book is built on letters and journals so it is mostly a collection of anecdotes about what opposition those pioneer women faced and what collage life looked like for them. I was shocked to learn that Cambridge started giving out degrees to women as late as 1948. However the book is exclusively British and focuses mostly on the Ox-bridge set as other reviewers pointed out.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nayana Dumbre

    The title of the book was so misleading - the book covers women education ONLY in Britain. I’d picked the book expecting that it will cover the fight for education by women across the globe. That would have been remarkable. I expected too much from the book I guess... (Will post detailed review later.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    I am so appreciative that I live in a time where going to university is not unexpected just because I'm female. Also, can't believe Cambridge took till 1948 to get with the program and started letting women get degrees

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Johnstone

    Absolutely brilliant. Anyone that’s inspired by the suffragettes and women’s rights should definitely read this book. The fact that men felt that women only used half of their brain is ridiculous. I think men felt threatened to be honest with you. A truly inspirational story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Reason for DNFing = The writing. It wasn't bad but not particularly engaging. I often find I can't get on with weighty historical tomes because they're too dry. This, though, seems to be the opposite. So light that I didn't think it would get to the crux of the issue.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    An enjoyable reading of this, light, but fascinating, social history. The women, and some men, touched on in this book, opened a door to education that it is hard to comprehend, was ever closed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    Felt repetitive in places. I spent a lot of this thinking about my grandmother, who would have been one of these bluestockings at Girton in the 1930s before joining the civil service.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Johanne

    Interesting, a reminder never to take Women's (or anyone else's) education for granted. A bit Oxbridge focussed but not exclusively so. I fairly quick read - I chewed through it in an afternoon on the sofa....

  30. 5 out of 5

    Val

    Jane Robinson uses a mixture of historical facts and personal anecdotes which strikes a happy balance between dry and gossipy. She is covering a wide subject here and the result is patchy, with lots of detail in some areas and frustratingly little in others. This meant that I did not enjoy this book as much as some of her others. Most of the focus is on university education and most of that on Cambridge University, which was among the slowest to admit women and the last to give its female student Jane Robinson uses a mixture of historical facts and personal anecdotes which strikes a happy balance between dry and gossipy. She is covering a wide subject here and the result is patchy, with lots of detail in some areas and frustratingly little in others. This meant that I did not enjoy this book as much as some of her others. Most of the focus is on university education and most of that on Cambridge University, which was among the slowest to admit women and the last to give its female students full recognition. As a result of this focus, many of the stories are from women who are studying not for furtherance of a career, but for its own sake. I am not denigrating their aims, but I think this does give a false picture of the reasons most women want an education.

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