M18407 | The Young Woman's Companion

The Young Woman's Companion
W. Shailer
1855, 19th century
13.4 x 8.9 x 2.4 cm
Gift of Miss Mabel Molson
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Book (26)
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Keys to History

Cookbooks contained practical household advice on how to prepare meals and dress wounds, but if you really wanted to get ahead in life, what you needed was an etiquette book, which told readers what to do and what not to do in all sorts of social situations.

Most books were aimed at a female audience and were chock-full of advice on proper female conduct. French and English authors agreed a respectable lady was modest, thrifty and charming. Laughing too loudly, dressing too showy or asking for "women's rights" was a sure way to get your name scratched off guest lists.

Men may have had authority in the courts, but women ran society and they rewarded as well as judged. Those who failed to live by the rules could be swiftly cut off, unless of course they (or rather their father or husband) had so much money that they could afford to do as they pleased.

Source : Straitlaced: Restrictions on Women [Web tour], by Elise Chenier, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    Written by middle-class women and men who had a heightened awareness of what constituted proper form, etiquette books were intended to promote and preserve social decorum.

  • Where

    The book was published in Halifax, NS.

  • When

    It was published in 1855.

  • Who

    This particular book was written by W. Shailer.