The lives of women in Victorian times

This talk looks in a light-hearted way at the daily lives of women, and how much they improved, during the reign of Queen Victoria 1837-1901. It is based on research I did for my novel Thornfield Hall.


To get into the skin of Mrs Fairfax, the narrator of my novel, I made a replica of the clothes she wore. Charlotte Bronte obligingly describes them for us.


Every respectable woman of that time wore corsets, so I supplied Mrs Fairfax with a full set of underwear. With her help we see how women dressed – and undressed, how their clothes were made and how they kept them and their selves clean.

Fashion and society changed. Women enjoyed the fashion for the crinoline; it didn’t last long. However they welcomed inventions like the sewing machine and the mangle which lightened their labours.


As the century progressed the laws changed. A married woman was no longer the property of her husband. Education opened doors to areas of life previously closed to women.



Which would you be?

This talk follows the progress of the long campaign for votes for women.

In Queen Victoria’s reign Parliament was exclusively male. The MPs were all men and the voters were all men. Nevertheless it was this testosterone rich Parliament that overturned the long-established laws that gave husbands the right to chastise their wives, to spend their money against their wishes, and to keep their children from them.
When women saw how Parliament improved their lives, they quickly realised it was only sensible to have a voice there.

They started to campaign for Votes for Women.
Politicians’ promises are like pie crust – made to be broken. Millicent Fawcett’s campaign met many disappointments, but she never urged women to break the law. She worked through persuasion.

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst had a different approach. She favoured militancy and shock tactics which generated publicity.. She was imprisoned several times for her actions.
Would you support either of these formidable ladies? Women used ingenious ways women to promote their cause, using items available in every home.
Based on research for my novel A Family Affair.


Novelicious Chats To... Jane Stubbs

What do you get when you mix Downton Abbey with the brooding classic that is Jane Eyre? The answer comes in the form of Thornfield Hall by Jane Stubbs. A new and wholly compelling take on the story we all know and love, this narrative comes from the hidden and secretive world of those living below stairs. Here, Jane Stubbs talks about her new book, the idea for which stemmed from a mere mention of a footman named Sam in Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel.


Read the full article over at Novelicious

Mary Sharratt talks to debut author Jane Stubbs about Thornfield Hall

In the spirit of Jo Baker’s Longbourn, Jane Stubbs’s novel Thornfield Hall is a revelatory retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, exposing the hidden story that Jane Eyre never knew. Our narrator is housekeeper Alice Fairfax, keeper of the manor’s secrets. In this most accomplished debut, Stubbs makes Charlotte Bronte’s treasured classic come alive, from its evocation of Yorkshire to its glimpse into the intricacies of the Victorian class system and the often constrained lives of Victorian women.


Read the full article at Historical Novel Society