Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 27 (1996) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
A friendly neighbor, who knew I was fond of “old things”, recently offered to let me look at a yellowing, crisply fragile newspaper that was in her possession. Unfolded, the crimbling broadsheet proved to be a copy of the Daily Mail for Wednesday, 23 June 1897- the issue commemorating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. I gingerly perused it, enjoying it as a period curiosity without really expecting to see anything of specific interest- until I got to page seven, which presented an article headed “Women in the Queen’s Reign. Some Who Have Made Victorian History”.
The piece- which is about thirty column inches long- is illustrated by five tiny vignettes portraying, respectively, Florence Nightingale, Lady Butler, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and George Eliot. Florence Nightingale is accorded pride of place in the article, and is cloyingly awarded “all the encomiums the pen can heap upon her”. The philanthropic achievements of Charles and Catherine Dicken’s friend, Angela Burdett-Coutts, are detailed. Princess Louise (as sculptor) with Lady Butler (as painter) are representative of the artists “who have made the female sex eminent during the past sixty years, sentative of the artists “who made the female sex eminent during the past sixty years, in the Academy, and other galleries’, and the reader is reminded of the titles and subjects of five of Lady Butler’s most famous pictures. The Queen’s daughter, Princess Christian, is commended for her support of needlecraft. Her devotion to the School of Art Needlework, South Kensington, is a very practical, as well as salutary, one, particularly as it was started in a day when the thimble and needle seemed to be standing a good chance of being pushed aside by women for less feminine callings.