This anthology brings together for the first time a collection of autobiographical accounts of their childhood by a range of prominent nineteenth-century literary women. These are strongly individualised descriptions by women who breached the cultural prohibitions against self writing, especially in the attention given to psychologically formative incidents and memories. Several offer detailed accounts of their inadequate schooling and their keen hunger for knowledge: others give new insights into the dynamics of Victorian family life, especially relationships with parents and siblings, the games they invented, and their sense of being misunderstood. Most contributors vividly describe their fears and fantasies, together with obsessive religious practices, and the development of an inner life as a survival strategy. This collection makes vital out-of-print material available to scholars working in the field of women’s autobiography, the history of childhood, and Victorian literature. The volume will also appeal to general readers interested in biography, autobiography, the history of family life, education, and women’s writing: read alongside Victorian women’s novels it offers an intriguing commentary on some of their key themes.

chapter 1|21 pages


chapter 2|10 pages

Amelia Opie

chapter 3|3 pages

Dorothea Herbert

chapter 4|11 pages

Mary Martha Sherwood

chapter 5|12 pages

Mary Somerville

chapter 6|3 pages

Lady Caroline Lamb

chapter 7|15 pages

'Charlotte Elizabeth'

chapter 8|13 pages

Anna Jameson

chapter 9|14 pages

Mary Howitt

chapter 10|11 pages

Sara Coleridge

chapter 11|46 pages

Harriet Martineau

chapter 12|12 pages

Fanny Kemble

chapter 13|10 pages

Elizabeth Sewell

chapter 14|17 pages

Frances Power Cobbe

chapter 15|21 pages

Charlotte M. Yonge

chapter 16|14 pages

Annie Besant