Enfilade

The Female Academy

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 1, 2009

From the exhibition website — for the eighteenth century, see especially the two sections on ‘The Imagined Female Acaemy’ and ‘The Real Female Academy’ :

Rooms of Our Own: The Female Academy from Margaret Cavendish to Lucy Cavendish College
Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, England, 17 — 31 October 2009

Richard Samuel, "Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo," 1778 (London: NPG)

‘A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved’ —A Room Of One’s Own

The original manuscript of Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room Of One’s Own’ will be the centrepiece of an exhibition at Lucy Cavendish College.

Charting the development of education for women over the last three centuries, the Rooms of Our Own exhibition will also feature cartoons, correspondence and documents from the College Archives. It will look at the women in the seventeenth century who fantasised about the possibility of women’s education through to the men and women who scorned and parodied it. Concluding the exhibition will be the vision of the women who sought to create a space in Cambridge for women to study at the time in their lives which suits them.

Before any women’s colleges existed in England, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-1673), imagined them in The Female Academy (1662) and The Convent of Pleasure (1668). Despite her elevated social status, ‘Mad Madge’ was mocked by men and women for her fascination with science and her desire to publish in her own name .

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