Until relatively recently, it was generally assumed that marriage was the only career for a woman, after which she was confined to the home, immersed in her domestic duties. In fact, the author of this text argues, there were numerous women who, with minimal education, little financial independence and only basic domestic skills, pursued active roles in the world outside the home. These roles were many and varied: writers, teachers, hostesses, entertainers, artists, photographers, translators, missionaries, astronomers, nurses, botanists, nannies, travellers, governesses, designers, gardeners, campaigners and explorers, to name but a few. Some well-known examples are covered in the book, including Mrs Beeton, Nancy Astor, Lillie Langry, Emmeline Pankhurst, Jane Austen, Beatrice Webb, Lady Anne Clifford, Annie Besant, Mary Wollstonecraft, Gertrude Jekyll, Beatrix Potter, Celia Fiennes and Amy Johnson, but there were many others quietly earning a living, working on behalf of the less fortunate or actively campaigning against social injustice.
Previously hidden from history, the lives of these women are here illuminated, in the sequel to the author's "The Illustrated History of the Housewife".