This is a souvenir book of the Salisbury Training School, where young women trained to be teachers. The novelist Thomas Hardy’s two sisters graduated from the school in 1877 and 1894, and it is believed to be the model for the training school where Sue Bridehead studies to be a teacher in Jude the Obscure.
This extract includes a page of reminiscences by a woman who studied at the school between 1853 and 1854. She complains about the misery of the Sundays, ‘like a dreary November day’, and states that as regards domestic work, there was ‘a great deal of unnecessary drudgery’.
This is a classroom in the training school. The women are all quite formally dressed, with hats, and the male teacher is wearing a frock coat. Note the well-lit room, with a large window and gas-lamps, the blackboard, the glass ink-bottles, and the vase of flowers.
The rejection of marriage as a model or contract in Jude the Obscure shows Hardy rejecting the rigidity of one form of community. A number of distinct communities are presented in the book, some shown as supportive of individuals, others not. Sue and Jude’s expulsions from the artisans’ society and the community of Spring Street are contrasted with, for example, Sue’s perception of a universal family where ‘all the little ones of our time are collectively the children of us adults of the time’. Two communities in the book show strong support at times of oppression: the wandering community at Shaston which supports Phillotson, and the 70 students at Melchester Training School who support Sue.