What is it like being a woman – in society, in the home and as a person in one’s own right? Originally published in 1967, here is a collection of passages, all linked by their theme, that of being a woman. They are taken from novels, essays, letters and diaries written by or about women concerning their psychology and position in society from the later eighteenth century onwards. In these days of emancipation and assumed equality (in some countries at any rate) it is as well to remember the very recent past and to look forward to the future, for all girls will have, certain problems to face just because they are girls. It is best to be prepared.

The anthology was chosen and organised for girls who were taking English, either for General Studies or in preparation for University. The extracts cover a wide range of styles and periods, and were selected both as representative of their time and as good examples of prose. Love, sex, marriage, motherhood and the wider role of women in society are among the topics covered, and there is an ample list of suggestions for further readings, biographical notes on the writers and suggested questions for discussions or essay-writing.



chapter 1|1 pages

Young Girls

From The House in Paris

chapter 2|4 pages

Different Girls

From The Waves

chapter 3|2 pages

Being a Girl

From Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter

chapter 4|6 pages

Growing Up I

From The Member of the Wedding

chapter 5|3 pages

Growing Up II

From The Rainbow

chapter 6|2 pages

Wanting a Chance in Life

From The Story of an African Farm

chapter 7|2 pages

Wanting Something More

From Jane Eyre

chapter 8|3 pages

A Young Girl’s Aspirations

From Journals

chapter 9|4 pages

Being Non-Educated

From Letters

chapter 10|2 pages

Weak Woman

From A Vindication of the Rights of Women

chapter 11|2 pages

Being in Love I

From Emma

chapter 12|3 pages

Planning for the Future

From Middlemarch

chapter 13|9 pages

Being a Governess

From Agnes Grey

chapter 14|5 pages

Being Engaged

From The Egoist

chapter 15|3 pages

Marriage for the Wrong Reasons—or to the Wrong Man

From Portrait of a Lady

chapter 16|4 pages

Love and Commonsense

From Letters

chapter 17|4 pages

Advising a Daughter on Life

From Letters

chapter 18|4 pages

Being Married

From At the Bay

chapter 19|4 pages

Being Married—and a Little Older

From To The Lighthouse

chapter 20|3 pages

Being a Bluestocking Married to a Genius

From Letters

chapter 21|5 pages

Wanting a Life of One’s Own

From All Passion Spent

chapter 22|4 pages

Escaping Temporarily

From A View of the Harbour

chapter 23|7 pages

How Life Passes

From Tenterhooks

chapter 24|2 pages

Coming Up for Air

From Dangerous Ages

chapter 25|4 pages

Bird in a Cage

From A Doll’s House

chapter 26|2 pages

Being an Outsider

From The Holiday

chapter 27|2 pages

Being Dissatisfied with the Love of Man

From The Echoing Grove

chapter 28|2 pages

Being a Sensitive Soul

From Howards End

chapter 29|2 pages


From The Woodlanders

chapter 30|3 pages

Being in Love II

From Letters to Imlay

chapter 31|4 pages

Man’s Ideal Wife—and Later

From Middlemarch

chapter 32|2 pages

Man’s Ideal of Woman

From An Ideal Husband

chapter 33|2 pages

Woman Playing Up to Her Role

From An Ideal Husband

chapter 34|4 pages

The Shavian Ideal of Woman and Man

From Man and Superman

chapter 35|2 pages

Being a Free’ Woman

From My Life

chapter 36|7 pages

Bringing Up a Baby

From A Proper Marriage

chapter 37|4 pages

A Man Infatuated—and Out of Love

From Liber Amoris

chapter 38|14 pages

Being a Mother

From Look the Other Way

chapter 39|3 pages

A Man in Two Minds

From Nightmare Abbey

chapter 40|4 pages

If Shakespeare Had Been a Woman

From A Room of One’s Own

chapter 41|6 pages

Being a Political Woman

From The New Machiavelli

chapter 42|4 pages

Women and Fiction

From Granite and Rainbow

chapter 43|3 pages

Woman in Present Society

From The Guardian