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The Politics of Gender in Victorian Britain
Masculinity, Political Culture and the Struggle for Women's Rights

$129.00 (C)

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  • Date Published: February 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107015074

$ 129.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This groundbreaking history of Victorian politics, feminism and parliamentary reform challenges traditional assumptions about the development of British democracy and the struggle for women's rights and demonstrates how political activity has been shaped by changes in the history of masculinity. From the second half of the nineteenth century Britain's all-male parliament began to transform the legal position of women as it reformed laws that had upheld male authority for centuries. To explain these revolutionary changes, Ben Griffin looks beyond the actions of the women's movement alone and shows how the behaviour and ideologies of male politicians were fundamentally shaped by their gender. He argues that changes to women's rights were not simply the result of changing ideas about women but also changing beliefs about masculinity, religion and the nature of the constitution and, in doing so, demonstrates how gender inequality can be created and reproduced by the state.

    • Breaks down the barriers between political history and gender history, challenging conventional accounts of British politics by demonstrating that the history of masculinity shaped political action
    • Proposes a new interpretation of Victorian Liberal and Conservative political thought, suggesting how and why Britain moved towards a democratic political system
    • Presents a new intellectual and political history of feminism
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2012 Whitfield Prize, Royal Historical Society

    Reviews & endorsements

    "… an impressive contribution to the history of the struggle for women's rights. Griffin's close attention to the ways in which politicians' gender shaped their responses to women's rights issues sheds new light both on the winning of those rights and on constructions of Victorian masculinity."
    Maureen Martin, Victorian Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107015074
    • length: 366 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.66kg
    • contains: 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction:
    1. 'Feminism' and the history of women's rights
    Part II. Masculinity and the Struggle for Women's Rights:
    2. The domestic ideology of Victorian patriarchy
    3. Class, liberalism and the erosion of Victorian domestic ideology
    4. Religious change and the transformation of domestic ideology
    5. The politics of paternity
    6. Performing masculinities in the House of Commons
    Part III. Political Culture and the Struggle for Women's Rights:
    7. Classes, interests and parliamentary reform
    8. The instability of the 1867 settlement, the secret ballot, and women's suffrage
    9. Redefining 'fitness': from the educated voter to household suffrage
    10. The road to democracy, 1885–1906
    11. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Ben Griffin, University of Cambridge
    Ben Griffin is a Fellow and Lecturer in History at Girton College, University of Cambridge. His doctoral thesis was awarded the Prince Consort and Thirlwall Prize and the Seeley Historical Medal in 2005 and his previous publications include The Politics of Domestic Authority in Britain since 1800 (2009), co-edited with Lucy Delap and Abi Wills.


    • Winner of the 2012 Whitfield Prize, Royal Historical Society

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