By Margaret Beetham
Just like the corset, the women's magazines which emerged within the 19th century produced a `natural' proposal of femininity: the family spouse; the trendy girl; the romancing and fascinating lady. Their legacy, from anguish aunts to type plates, are simply traced of their sleek opposite numbers. yet do those magazines and their can provide empower or disempower their readers? of Her personal? is a full of life and revealing exploration of this immensely renowned shape from its beginnings. In interesting element Margaret Beetham investigates the needs, pictures and interpretations of femininity posed by way of a medium whose readership used to be and nonetheless is nearly solely woman. of Her personal is instantaneously a chronological tracing of the heritage, a set of interesting case reviews and an intervention into fresh debates approximately gender and sexuality in well known analyzing. it's a booklet which somebody who's drawn to the original, influential global of the woman's journal - scholars, students and normal readers alike - may want to learn
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Extra info for A Magazine of Her Own?: The Woman's Magazine 1800-1914
La Belle Assemblée recognised that in this new era sexual licence—even sexual ‘tattle’—was no longer appropriate to the lady; it was becoming the mark of a specifically masculine upper class. Le Beau Monde could include in its ‘Varieties’ stories of sexual adventure, like that of a fashionable nobleman ‘of dash and style’ who has left ‘his fair helpmate for another object… who more resembles Martha Gunn the washerwoman’ (BM I (ii) 1806:116). It could even include a letter complaining that ‘certain ladies’ had been banned from the theatre (BM III (xviii) 1808:85–6).
And domesticity was not identified as a cause of women’s disempowerment until the twentieth century. The empowering of women as ‘chaste matrons’ was central to the formation of the middle class as distinct from the old aristocracy, who were represented as sexually lax. In the struggle to define ‘the lady’, however, certain elements of the old aristocratic femininity persisted into the new formations of gender and publishing, in particular in relation to leisure and dress. Both were rooted in the material privilege which made possible the life of ‘the lady’, whether aristocratic or middle class.
The Ladies’ Diary or Complete Almanack, for example, ran from 1704 to 1840, offering ‘for the use and diversion of the FAIR SEX’ a calendar, information about fairs and sessions, rhyming enigmas, mathe-matical problems and brainteasers. Even after its merger with the Gentleman’s Diary in 1841 it continued to keep alive—in however small a way—the idea that ladies as well as gentlemen might enjoy intellectual puzzles. Like all ‘pocket-books’ it was small (duodecimo) though not cheap (stitched copies cost 2s.
A Magazine of Her Own?: The Woman's Magazine 1800-1914 by Margaret Beetham