A Guide to the Female Sex, from the Age of Sixteen to Sixty

In the Old Post Office in Tintagel, Cornwall, there are Victorian samplers on display.  I couldn’t locate any images of the actual ones you can see there, but this mid-eighteenth century English sampler is rather interesting:

The words embroidered at the bottom: Behold the Daughter of Innocence how beauti-ful is the mildness of her, was apparently taken from “The Whole Duty of a Woman; or, A Guide to the Female Sex, from the Age of Sixteen to Sixty,” first published in 1753 (1).

At the time the author was listed as “A Lady,” but it turns out “the Lady” was in fact author William Kenrick, English novelist, playwright, and founder of the book review digest, The London Review.

His “The Whole Duty of a Woman” was his most successful work, reprinted in over 20 editions. The “Lady” who is writing is a fallen woman, now reformed, who wants to persuade other women to live a life of virtue. 

Ironic, considering Kenrick, the actual writer, has been described as one of London’s most despised, drunken, and morally degenerate hack writers in the later eighteenth century (2).

Emily Nobile, in Emily’s Shadow, admired her mother’s knitting, and kept a sweater she’d long outgrown to comfort herself over the death of her mother in the London Blitz, but personally she did not enjoy needlework, preferring instead a life of the mind.


(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sampler_by_Elizabeth_Laidman,_1760.jpg

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kenrick_(writer)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>