Magazine for governesses and women teachers


The figure of the Victorian governess – a live-in teacher to children of the well-off – was a prominent part of 19th-century society; the 1851 census recorded 25,000 in Britain. Though it could be a lonely job, for many educated young daughters of impoverished middle-class families it was one of the only means of earning a living.  

Guidebooks on how to be a governess proliferated, and in 1882, a monthly magazine was launched, targeted at this lucrative market. The Governess: A Ladies' Literary and Educational Monthly carried a mixture of what would now be called ‘lesson plans’, exam curricula and results, educational theory, and news. The magazine provides detailed evidence of the kinds of subjects taught by governesses and the style in which they taught.  

This first issue, from April 1882, starts with an editorial on the theories of child education pioneer Friedrich Fröbel (1782-1852), the founder of the kindergarten. There follow articles on topics such as needlework, Greek mythology, musical notation, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, examining a cat, and a round-up of science news. 

Despite the large target market, the magazine was a financial failure. It was relaunched twice under new titles, in February 1883 and September 1883, but closed the following January. Society’s boundaries were changing, the role of the governess was in decline, and a series of legislation through the late 1800s and early 1900s gradually established universal free education.

Full title:
The Governess: A Ladies' Literary and Educational Monthly
April 1882, London
Joseph Hughes [editor]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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