A rich and fascinating account of the lives of Victorian governesses, exploring nineteenth-century attitudes to women, family and class.
If a nineteenth century lady had neither a husband to support her nor money of her own, almost her only recourse was to live in someone else's household and educate their children - in particular, their daughters.
Marooned within the confines of other people's lives, neither servants nor family members, governesses occupied an uncomfortable social limbo. And being poor and insignificant, their papers were mostly lost. But a few journals and letters have come down to us, giving a vivid record of what it was to be a lone professional woman at a time when such a creature officially did not exist.
Ruth Brandon is the pseudonym of Marian Silver. She divides her time between London and France and is currently working on her second crime title featuring Dr Reggie Lee. Her works include Other People's Daughters: the Life and Times of the Governess (W&N 2008) and The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini (Pan 2001).