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Blue Stockings @ Shakespeare's Globe

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Girls Can Learn Too

'Mental taxation in a woman can lead to atrophy, mania, or worse - leave her incapacitated as a mother. This is not an opinion. It is a fact of nature.' - Dr. Henry Maudsley

And to Doctor Maudsley I say, 'You're a chauvinist pig. That is not an opinion. It is a fact.'

Unfortunately, this was a fact that fitted most of the entire male population during the nineteenth century, as they all held women in the same regard. Up until the late nineteenth century, women were not allowed to attend university; it was not until Emily Davies founded Girton College in 1869 that women got to go onto higher education.

The college is a branch of the University of Cambridge, and when it opened on the 16th October, only five women were attending. Since then things have changed dramatically. As of 2004-2005, the ratio of men to women was 52%: 48%.

Inspired by the gret women who petitioned for equal rights, playwright Jessica Swale has written Blue Stockings a feminist play currently in production at Shakespeare's Globe. A 'bluestocking' is a derogative term used to describe women who were not considered fit to be married or have children because they were well educated.

Based on a true story, Blue Stockings is set in 1896, and follows the story of Elizabeth Welsh, the headmistress of Girton College. The girls at the college are every bit as smart as the boys, and match them grade for grade, but by doing so, they have sullied their reputations. They are now blue stockings.

While the boys go on to graduate, the girls are left with nothing. It is up to Welsh to fight their corner, and prove their right to graduate.

The play runs until the 11th October and will include an in-depth discussion on the 12th September and a post-show talk on the 21st September.

The only thing a woman can own is knowledge...we must build our Trojan horse and infiltrate from the inside.' - Elizabeth Welsh

A far better quote, don't you agree?
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Why? Fun at the theatre
When: Until 11th October
Phone: 020 7401 9919
Where: Shakespeare's Globe
Cost: 5-39
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