Sunday, May 17, 2015

Etiquette and a "Woman Problem"

Was this a "Woman Problem" or in reality, a "Man Problem?"  In the 1890s, British women were more quiet and reserved in their etiquette and mannerisms, compared to their American counterparts, throughout all levels of society. Between the 1870s and the outbreak of World War One, more than 200 daughters of America's wealthiest families, went to Great Britain and Europe to exchange cash for a place in the British aristocracy and Europe's royal families. Finding many eligible young men who were the heirs to cash-strapped, large estates and titles, these marriages were rarely "love-matches," but America's young women with affluence, ingenuity, and a different set of manners, brought permanent changes to the English aristocracy and ruling classes of the day.

"The Woman Problem in England"

A superior and well educated class of young women in England, daughters of officers and clergymon, of professional men as well, are seeking employment in the London shops, where hours are shorter and wages are better than in the more genteel occupations of nursery governess and schoolteacher. 

One of these independent young women says she infinitely prefers the business work to the hopeless monotony of the village home life and the painfully patronizing attention of the squires. And indeed if titled ladies open tearooms and millinery establishments in town, why is the shop life dishonorable for those of lower rank? 

The problem of what to do with the daughters of Great Britain is hopelessly involved by the great excess of women over men in the population, by the tendency of the English bachelor to-wed with American beauty and gold and the petty conventionality which prescribes certain phases of work as unbecoming the dignity and rank of the daughters of impoverished country squires or clergymen in poor livings, professional men of small means and large families. 
From the New York Sun, 1893

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor, for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia