For hundreds of years Cambridge was an all-male institution. Then the women arrived, and changed everything. This blog tells the interconnected stories of some of the women who ‘invaded’ this ancient university town as students and brides in the 1870s and 1880s. They had to fight for their rightful place in this highly traditional, predominantly male society, and so they formed close social networks and discussion groups including the Ladies Dining Society which met regularly from 1890 until the outbreak of war in 1914.
Its twelve members would contribute to women’s suffrage, higher education, journalism, social welfare and mental health reform. Virginia Woolf once called Cambridge “that detestable place”, but these women and their friends helped to make it a better place. Their influence went far beyond college walls and continues today.
This blog also includes some guest posts as well as other essays, reviews and articles of mine, with full acknowledgements.
Christopher Brooke, A History of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge University Press, 1993), volume 4: 1870-1990. A multi-volume, highly readable history of the period.
Gwen Raverat Period Piece (Faber and Faber, 2002). This best-selling memoir has never been out of print since its first publication in 1952.
Rita McWilliams Tullberg Women at Cambridge (Cambridge University Press, 1998). The story of the long struggle for women students to be accepted as full members of the university.