The Female Instructor


The Female Instructor is a conduct manual that promises to teach its reader ‘all the accomplishments’ that will equip her to be a ‘useful member of society – a pleasing and instructive companion or, a respectable mother’ (title page). The first page of the index (p. 5) shows the range of the manual: it encompasses the emotional and the practical, offering advice on ‘Courtship, Love and’ as well as asthma, bread-making and ‘Children, safest method of bringing them up’. Other topics include education (see pp. 18-19, 28-29), etiquette  (see pp. 105-07, 112-15, 166-69), leisure (see pp. 172-79), sensibility (pp. 131-35) and marriage (see pp. 179-88, 266-67).

Religion in The Female Instructor

The work has a strong Christian ethos: in addition to a number of sections specifically about religion, many of the other sections give religious grounds for their instructions. For example, the section entitled 'Liberty and Restraint' advocates the cultivation of a ‘gentle demeanour’ primarily ‘on the principle of obedience to Christ… who, when he proposed himself as a perfect pattern of imitation, [said] “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly”’ (p. 105).

As well as offering advice, the book contains several biographies of famous and devout women, such as Queen Mary, Lady Jane Grey, philosopher Ann Baynard and the scholar and translator Elizabeth Smith. These women are meant as ‘religious examples’: the writer hopes the stories of their lives will encourage his readers to greater piety and observance (pp. 64-65).

Full title:
The Female Instructor; or, Young Woman's Companion: being a guide to all the accomplishments which adorn the female character, etc.
estimated 1811, Liverpool, Merseyside
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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