Woman, her Duties, Education, and Position

William Fulford

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Prose essay


◦ Georgiana Burne–Jones, Memorials.

◦ MacPherson, Geraldine. Memoirs of the Life of Anna Jameson. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1878.

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


Despite Cormell Price’s assertion, toward the end of 1855, that the contents of The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine were to be “mainly Tales, Poetry, friendly critiques, and social articles” (Memorials 116), few entries could properly be called “social articles”. The main exceptions are this essay by William Fulford (1831-1882), and two by essays by Price: “Unhealthy Employments,” which he wrote with Charles Faulkner, and published in May; and “The Work of Young men,” published in the September issue.

Fulford does not seem as comfortable as Price in this genre. He bases his arguments mostly on two essays: “Lectures to Ladies on Practical Subjects”, by John Frederick Maurice, and “Sisters of Charity abroad and at home”, by Anna Brownwell Jameson. Both Maurice and Jameson stress the necessity of men and women working together, and Fulford echoes this sentiment. He outlines what he feels are the duties and rights of women of his generation, which include, besides “home duties”, “understanding, appreciating and assisting their male friends (especially wives their husbands) in their intellectual pursuits” (464). Fulford’s writing, for the most part, comes across as pretentious, especially in such statements as, “One of the chief faults that I have noticed in the female intellect is incapacity for strict and severe thinking” (468). When he wrote this article, Fulford was only 24, and had just left Oxford.

Perhaps the most telling feature of this essay is Fulford’s reliance on Tennyson, especially on readings of “The Princess,” which he places alongside Maurice’s and Jameson’s articles. Fulford is a better poetic critic than a social critic, and that he invokes Tennyson so often here reveals more about Fulford himself than the issue he addresses. See also his essay on Tennyson, published in three parts in the first three issues of the Magazine.

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine , August, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: Fulford015.raw.xml