An 1889 Magazine Asked Women Why They Think They’re Single. The Replies Were Hilarious
We are lucky to be born in an era where being single is generally acceptable and considered normal. Women in the Victorian era didn’t have that same privilege. During the Victorian period, women only had three main roles in life – to marry, run households, and raise families. And because the era was more attributed to strict gender ideals and stereotypes than any time in history, women who chose to be unmarried became the subject of public ridicule.
Aside from their sharply defined role, women in the Victorian society also had limited rights and privileges. They were denied the chance of an education and they did not have a lot of freedom in their job choices. However, these unjust restrictions provoked Victorian women to push for their rights and speak their minds. In the late Victorian period, more women have stepped out of gender stereotyping in an attempt to foster gender equality. One of the rights they were proposing was the right to be single without being singled-out by the society.
Victorian Magazine Asked Its Female Readers The Reason Why They Preferred To Be Single And The Savage Responses Were Hilarious
In 1889, Tit-Bits magazine offered prizes to single, female readers who sent in the best answers to the question: ‘Why Am I A Spinster?’ Here are some highlights… pic.twitter.com/7gRG0kVbUO
With more and more women choosing to be single, Tit-Bits From All The Most Interesting Books and Newspapers in The World (more commonly known as Tit-Bits) ran a competition on its April 1889 edition magazine. The competition, which was called The Spinsters’ Prize, was offered to single women where they only need to answer the question – Why Am I A Spinster? The one with the best answer would be proclaimed the winner. But since they received lots of good responses, the publishers couldn’t just pick one and had to publish the best 21 answers. Of course, the prize had to be divided among the multiple winners.
Certainly! Here’s the full page. The competition was announced on 13 April 1889, p. 5; these replies appeared on 27 April 1889, p. 39. pic.twitter.com/lgneWL1JOy
Public historian Dr. Bob Nicholson stumbled upon this interesting article when he was searching through old issues of Tit-Bits magazines. Specializing in Victorian pop culture, Dr. Nicholson was researching on 19th century jokes published on Victorian magazines. While he was reading the Tit-Bits magazine April 1889 edition, the article caught his interest and discovered something that many of us didn’t know about Victorian women. Based from their hilariously savage answers, the article just showed that women in this Victorian period were as badass as modern women.
Take A Closer Look At The Hilariously Savage Reasons Why These Spinsters Prefer To Be Single
Dr. Nicholson shared some screenshots of the article on Twitter. And all the witty responses from the single women of the Victorian era will get you nodding in approval. It’s also notable to mention that Tit-Bits magazine, for some reason, included the winners’ full addresses on the article which is now considered unlawful in today’s publication. Dr. Nicholson took advantage of this information and was able to trace one of the winners named Florence Watts. He even obtained a census record of Florence Watts which he also shared on his Twitter post.
The inclusion of readers’ addresses makes it possible to find them in the census. Florence Watts, for example, worked as an ‘artist / painter’ in 1881. However, one year after entering Tit-Bits’ competition, she abandoned spinsterhood and married a writer named Herbert Flowerdew!
Here’s the census record for Florence Flowerdew (née Watts) from 1911. No occupation listed for her, but women’s work was often under-reported. Sadly, her husband died 6 years later after reportedly struggling with depression and (possibly) a suicide attempt. pic.twitter.com/8Ztbq7IOwv