[ An upper-middle-class English girl's education in the 1840s. ] Autograph Journal of Fanny Higginson, daughter of Lt Gen. Sir George Powell Higginson, including a detailed description of the course of her education.

Fanny Higginson, daughter of Lt-Gen. George Powell Higginson (1788-1866) of the Grenadier Guards, and sister of Gen. Sir George Wentworth Alexander Higginson (1826-1927)
Publication details: 
Wilton Crescent and Pont Street, London; and Brighton and other locations. Journal: 1 January to 23 July 1842. Notes: November 1844 to July 1845.
SKU: 19879

The present item is highly unusual from the point of view of women's education, being in large part a description by a young English upper-middle-class girl of the 1840s of the rigorous course of education she is undergoing. Written at a time – several years before the establishment of Queen’s College in Harley Street and Cheltenham Ladies' College – when it was generally assumed that an upper-class English girl's education need only consist of the acquisition of 'accomplishments' to entice and please a husband, the volume describes an extraordinarily rigorous educational regime for a young Englishwoman. The author is Fanny Higginson, daughter of Lieutenant-General George Powell Higginson (1788-1866) of the Grenadier Guards, and his wife Francis Elizabeth, daughter of General Francis Needham, 1st Earl of Kilmorey. The Higginsons, whose London address was 9 Wilton Crescent, were on both sides a military family, with strong connections with the Irish aristocracy on the mother's side. There are various references to family members in the journal: 'George at Eton' is the writer's brother the future General Sir George Wentworth Alexander Higginson (1826-1927), Major General commanding the Brigade of Guards, General Officer Commanding the Home District, and Lieutenant of the Tower of London. 'Uncle Knox' is the Hon. John Henry Knox (1788-1872), son of the Earl of Ranfurley; 'Berry Hall' is his residence in Taplow, Buckinghamshire; 'Mabella Knox' is his wife – and the writer's aunt – Lady Mabella Josephine Knox (c.1801-1899); 'Aunt Anna Maria' and 'Selina' are two of Fanny's mother's other sisters. 'Aunt Campbell' is Emma Knox, wife of Lieut. Gen. Sir Henry Campbell. The item is 37pp., 4to. In original light-green binding of patterned cloth, with 'F. A. J. H. | 1840' in gilt on front board. Internally in good condition, lightly-aged, half-loose from its aged and worn binding, with the front pastedown (carrying the binder's instruction regarding the lettering on the cover) now loose. Neatly written in copperplate, the writing of the journal being a writing exercise, as the following pencil note from the author's mother, at the foot of the entry for 7 May 1842, indicates: 'Mama trusts she shall see a decided improvement in Fanny's writing next week not so small & cramped and the letters more distinct & well formed & Capitals bolder'. With a few annotations in a later hand (the author's in later life?), including, at head of first page: 'for private circulation only!!!', and the sarcastic 'rather remarkable!!!' and 'wonderful!!!!' The main interest of the volume lies in the first 21pp., which consist of a 'Journal', written roughly one day a week, describing lessons given over the period, with some personal notes, running from 1 January to 23 July 1842. The first entry (1 January 1842) gives is a typical example of a week's education: 'Scripture reading. Commentary on St. Matthew's Gospel. | Lessons. Isaiah 60th. Chapter. Milton 3rd. Book 540th line. | Music. Two music lessons from Mr. Burrowes [i.e. John Freckleton Burrowes (1787-1852), organist of St James's Church, Piccadilly]; “Rondo” on the airs “Plus d'une tempête.” | History. Russels Modern Europe. | French reading. Racine's “Britannicus.” | Arithmetic. Reduction sum. Corrected the bills. | French writing. Two translations, put a french fable in prose. One dictée. | Letters. One to Aunt Campbell. | Italian. Two translations, & a lesson with Papa. | Drawing. Three lessons.' The penultimate entry (16 July) is if anything more rigorous: 'Scripture reading. 6 chapters of Acts. 29 pages of Commentary. | Lessons. Milton, book 5 line 275 to 295 | Music. 5 pages of a “Rondino from Zanella.” by Czerny. | History. 74 pages of Russel; vol: 3. page 27 to 101. | Italian. 3 lessons from Monsr Garofolini, 3 letters, 2 translations | French writing. 2 translations. | French reading. Began “La Thébaide,” by Racine | Chronology. Recapitulation, ancient history. | Letters. To Aunt Campbell, and George.' Included in other entries are lessons in 'Grammar' (often from 'Noël et Chapsal') and 'Thorough Base'. Somewhat surprisingly, given her father's profession, he takes Fanny's drawing lessons and reads Italian with her (see entries for 5 February and 26 March). Fanny is clearly a voracious reader, noting on 19 March: 'Read the “Gentleman of the Old school by G. P. R. James: three volumes of the life of Wilberforce, and the second volume of the life of Ferdinand and Isabella by Prescott', and on 25 June: 'Read “Display” by Miss J. Taylor'. The volume also includes 8pp. of miscellaneous notes, with the first headed 'November 1844. FAJH. corrected by Mr. Graham', and the last dated 'January 1845', and including sections on 'Derivation of the Roman numbers', 'Table of the Visigothic Kings', 'Sieges of Rome in ancient and modern history', '3 scales used ancient in music', 'The claims of the Houses of York and Lancaster', 'Rules for the Quantities of Latin finals', and grammar notes on the use of 'While and Whilst' and 'Diminish decrease'. A final 7pp. section is dated at the end 'F. A. J. H. | July 14th. 1845', and is divided into three parts: 'Division of the Roman Month', 'The Roman method of dating the day of the Month' and 'To turn Roman time into English'. At the rear of the volume is a single page headed 'Historical Notes &c.' The journal describes a temporary move between London addresses, and a six-week holiday in Brighton. On 13 February 1842 she writes: 'During part of Friday, & Saturday we arranged our things previous to moving', and on 26 February: 'On Wednesday and Thursday we had holidays, as we were moving from Wilton Crescent to Pontus [sic] Street. [later given as 'Pont Street']' On 4 June: Did not leave my room all this week, till Saturday June 4th. When we came by the railroad to Brighton, & took a house in the King's Road.' And on 16 July: 'On Wednesday, the Hills, Corbets, & Miss Shore drank tea with us: on Thursday we left Brighton, at 3 ½ P.M. & arrived at the London Station at 5 ½ P.M. & came to Wilton Crescent.' The final entry, 23 July, notes: 'On Wednesday Felicia Lygon spent the evening with us. | Friday, the Fergusons drank tea with us.', with the following added later: 'went abroad – for 15 months', and yet later: 'first to Boulogne'. The journal entries record visits to the family from various titled ladies (5 March 1842: 'Dined on Tuesday, with Mr & Lady Augusta Wentworth. On Wednesday drank tea with Miss Shuckburgh'; and 25 June: 'Wednesday, drank tea with Lady Hill, Thursday, the Hill's & Corbet's spent the evening with us'), going to balls (29 January: 'Went to a ball at Sir Thomas Bradford's on Friday'), and sewing (2 July: 'Finished Mama's Slippers, enfin.'). Other entries indicate a busy social life. On 29 January: 'Went to a ball at Sir Thomas Bradford's on Friday'. 19 March: 'On Monday went to Berry Hall, George joined us at the Slough station: remained at Uncle Knox's till Saturday, when we went to Marlow.' 26 March: 'Arrived at Marlow on Saturday evening: went on the following morning to church at Marlow, in the afternoon to Bisham. In the course of the week, went over to Westhorpe, to Danesfield, & Bisham Abbey: rode four times with Papa & Uncle: read Italian with Papa & did a translation: had one drawing lesson. Read the services in the prayer book for Passion Week.' 9 April: 'Music. Mr. Burrowes ill: practice every day. […] Went to Sir Francis Shuckburgh's on Friday, to Strawberry Hill & Hampton Court on Saturday'. April 16: 'Mabella Knox came on a visit to us, & we had half holiday every day this week. On Tuesday we went to a ball at Mrs & Mr Campbell's, to the National & Adelaide Galleries in the morning. On Friday I went to Covent Garden, & saw “the Marriage of Figaro.” To the Opera on Saturday; saw “L'elisir d'Amore [sic]”'. 23 April: 'On Thursday George went back to Eton, Half holiday on Thursday, & on Saturday. [added in pencil: 'to celebrate the event']. 30 April: 'Wednesday. Spent the day at Poplar [added later: 'under the shade of the trees'] | Saturday drank tea with the Miss Lygons'. 21 May: 'Thursday. Went to the Parade, on the Queen's birthday, the Miss Lygon's drank tea with us.' 18 June: 'Monday Papa went away; on Wednesday Aunt Anna Maria went to Hatley. We drank tea on Tuesday at Lady Hill's.' (On 2 July she goes to Kemp Town with 'the Hill's & Corbet's'.) 25 June: 'Tuesday, a holiday being Georges birthday. […] Papa came from London.' The final entry, 23 July, notes: 'On Wednesday Felicia Lygon spent the evening with us. | Friday, the Fergusons drank tea with us.', with the following added later: 'went abroad – for 15 months', and yet later: 'first to Boulogne'.