In the course of the 19th century, the ideal “angel” came to be applied to every wife who created a heaven for her husband in a well-ordered home. The wife’s duties - educating the children, managing the household and providing emotional support for her husband - were not undervalued. The husband maintained his role as the head of the family. The ability of a husband to keep his wife out of the workplace signified respectability. It was the queen who established the ideal figure of the Victorian wife and mother.
Women and sport
Thanks to the introduction of the railways, many women were able to enjoy a day out at the seaside. Girls were encouraged to try archery and croquet. Mrs Bloomer introduced knickerbockers for women to Britain in the 1850s.
Lady Anne Blunt travelled extensively in the Arabian desert with her husband and many women emigrated to America or Australia with their families.
Women and medicine
In 1854 Florence Nightingale left her position as superintendent of a sanatorium to head a team of nurses to the Crimea. She was a national heroine.
Women travel writers and painters
Marianne North travelled extensively with her father and in 1869 she decided to paint the flora of the distant countries she visited. Her paintings of natural landscapes, flowers and plants that had not yet been classified, birds and animals can be seen at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.