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Advent Definitions: Domestic angels?

HelenBiggs4 December 2017

‘Angel’, in: R 221 DICTIONARIES WEBSTER 1869 : Webster, The people’s dictionary of the English language (London, [1869?])

It’s fascinating to see that in Webster angels are defined as both godly and evil spirits, but what really piqued my interest is the idea of being angelic – “partaking of their nature or dignity”. It immediately brought to mind one of the other items in our collections:

A is the Angel woman should be

Waiting to pour out her husband’s tea:

“Better than man” the Antis say-

But the better half has got to obey

These words may sound like they’re promoting woman as a domestic figure, but in fact they’re from the satirical Anti-Suffrage Alphabet, which playfully imitates a rhyming children’s alphabet book to ridicule the arguments used by anti-suffrage campaigners. One such argument was that a wife and mother was the moral centre of a household, and that this role would be diminished or corrupted if she took a more active role in public life. The Alphabet’s creators contend that this supposed moral purity was already compromised, as a husband was meant to be the final decision-maker in all non-domestic matters, whatever a woman’s own beliefs and values were.

The Alphabet is held as part of the Laurence Housman Collection, which will feature heavily in next year’s Main Library exhibition “Dangers and delusions”? Perspectives on the woman’s suffrage movement, set to open February 2018.

For more daily Advent-inspired definitions from our Rare English Dictionaries collection, follow @UCLSpecColl on Twitter.

Reading London

HelenBiggs31 March 2017

This post originally appeared at Newsam News, and is reproduced here courtesy of Sally Perry.

What: A London-themed celebration of reading aloud, and being read to, for World Book Night

Where: UCL IOE Library

When: Monday 24 April 2017 5.30-7.00pm

To celebrate World Book Night 2017 and to coincide with UCL Libraries’ East Side Stories: Londoners in Transition exhibition we are holding our third read aloud event on Monday 24 April. Come and listen to fellow audience members read poems, stories or passages from their favourite books. Readings will include extracts from George Orwell’s Down and out in Paris and London which is included in the exhibition. If you would like to read aloud yourself in any language (for approximately 5 mins) you would be very welcome. A London theme for your reading is optional!

Sam Duncan (IOE Dept of Education, Practice and Society) and Rebecca Webster (Head of Archives, UCL Library Services) will introduce the session.

If you would like to come along (to read or to be read to) please use the link below to book a place. If you would like to read please email Sam Duncan (sam.duncan@ucl.ac.uk)

To book please click here.