Some Important Dates in the
History of Women/Feminism in the 19th Century

1762 Rousseau’s Emile advocates an education in coyness and deceit for women

1766 James Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women

1775 Dr. John Gregory, A Father’s Legacy to His Daughter

1790 Catherine Macauley’s Letters on Education

1792 Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women

1825 William Thompson, An Appeal of One Half the Human Race

1832 First Reform Bill enfranchises upper middle-class males

1839 Child Custody Act gives mother limited rights in her children--and right to petition for co-guardianship

1844 Charlotte Tonna, The Wrongs of Women

1844 Elizabeth Barrett, A Drama of Exile and Other Poems (“The Runaway Slave” 1848)

1845 Mrs. Hugo Reid, A Plea for Women

1847 Ten Hours Act limits work of women and children to ten hours daily

1847 Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

1847 Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

1847 first obstretrical operation using chloroform performed

1847 Tennyson’s The Princess describes the destruction of a women’s college

1848 Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton (“Lizzie Leigh,” 1855)

1848 The Communist Manifesto

1848 Queen’s College founded

1849 Bedford College

1850 Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics argues theoretically against legal restrictions on women

1853 Charlotte Bronte, Villette

1856 Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

1857 Matrimonial Causes Act permits limited divorce

1857 Society of Female Artists founded

1857 Englishwomen's Journal founded

1857 famous report on prostitution by William Acton presents conservative view of female sexuality

1859 George Eliot, Adam Bede

1860 George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

1865 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson passed the Society of Apothecaries examination and became the first British woman licensed as a doctor.

1867 John Stuart Mill introduces first women’s suffrage bill into parliament

1869 John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women

1869 women ratepayers receive municipal franchise

1870 first Married Women's Property Act allowed wives to retain earned income

1874 London Medical College for women opened

1878 legal separation permitted if wife is repeately assaulted

1878 University of London grants B. A. to women

1879 establishment of first women’s colleges at Oxford, Somerville and Lady Margaret Hall

1879 Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House

1882 Married Women’s Property Act

1882 Weisman’s theory of germ-plasm as sole transmitter of inherited traits

1884 Friedrich Engels’s Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State

1885 Stead publishes articles on prostitution

1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act permits wives to testify against husbands in court

1886 repeal of Contagious Diseases Act

1886 Maintenance in Case of Desertion Act

1886 Guardianship of Infants Act--if father dies, guardianship passes to mother

1889 Patrick Geddes, The Evolution of Sex

1891 Herbert Spencer, Justice, opposes vote for women

1893 Havelock Ellis, Man and Woman

1893 New Zealand grants women’s suffrage

1894 George Moore, Esther Waters (heroine raises illegitimate child)

1903 discovery of sex hormones

1903 formation of Women’s Social and Politial Union (WSPU) by Emmeline Pankhurst and others

1909 Women’s Freedom League formed by Mrs. Despard and others

1911 Society of Women Musicians founded

1913 Cat and Mouse Act

1914 outbreak of war

1918 suffrage for wives of electors over thirty, female householders over thirty

1920 Oxford grants the B. A. degree to women

1922 Law of Property Act--in cases of intestacy, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, inherit equally

1923 Matrimonial Causes Act grants divorce on same ground to both sexes

1925 Guardianship of Infants Act--fathers and mothers in equal position with regard to children

1925 Widows' Pension Act passed

1928 Virginia Woolf, Orlando

1929 suffrage for all over 21

1938 Woolf, Three Guineas

1948 women permitted to receive degrees from Cambridge