Balancing Acts: The Hostess and the New Bureaucratic Order

  • Susan K. Harris


Mary Gladstone and Annie Fields have come down to posterity because their contemporaries celebrated them as hostesses, but for neither woman was hostessing her only, or even her favorite, activity. Nevertheless the “business” of hostessing provided both women with skills that facilitated their movement from the relatively domestic environment of entertaining to the far more public world of institution-building. As members of powerful classes, they were well-positioned to take their talents into the public arena; as late Victorian women, they experienced opportunities for public self-presentation that they were not altogether prepared to embrace. Class, gender, and nationality facilitated their activities even as they controlled their ambitions.


Late Nineteenth Century Cultural Institution Diary Entry Public Arena Music Education 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Lucy Masterman, Ed., Mary Gladstone, Her Diaries and Letters, London: Methuen & Co., 1930, 246.Google Scholar
  2. A large literature exists on the evolution of Anglo-American charity organizations in the late nineteenth century. See especially Katherine Bentley Beauman, Women and the Settlement Movement, London and New York: The Radcliffe Press, 1996;Google Scholar
  3. Lori D. Ginzberg, Women and the Work of Benevolence, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990;Google Scholar
  4. Gertrude Himmelfarb, Poverty and Compassion, New York: Vintage Books, 1991;Google Scholar
  5. Robert Humphreys, Poor Relief and Charity, 1869–1945, Hampshire & New York: Palgrave/St. Martin’s, 2001;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Roy Lubove, The Professional Altruist, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Peter Mandler, Ed., The Uses of Charity, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990;Google Scholar
  8. Standish Meacham, Toynbee Hall and Social Reform, 1880–1914, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987;Google Scholar
  9. Ann Firor Scott, Natural Allies: Women’s Associations in American History, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991;Google Scholar
  10. Kathleen Woodroofe, From Charity to Social Work, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    William Ewart Gladstone’s relationships with the prostitutes he “rescued” during long night walks through London have been a matter of hot dispute ever since the press first got wind of the practice in the nineteenth century. According to the family, he talked the prostitutes into coming home with him and then handed them over to his wife for “rescue” purposes; according to his enemies, of course, he was practicing adultery under the guise of charity—a sexual scenario familiar to citizens in a culture that fetishized purity. Newspapers and cartoonists, of course, found the subject irresistible. See Richard Deacon, The Private Life of Mr. Gladstone, London: Frederick Muller, 1965.Google Scholar
  12. 16.
    Mary Drew, Catherine Gladstone, London: Nisbet & Co., 1919, 251–52 and 250.Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    Roy Jenkins, Gladstone, London: Macmillan, 1995, 391.Google Scholar
  14. 33.
    Judith A. Roman, Annie Adams Fields: Spirit of Charles Street, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990, 75–77.Google Scholar
  15. 40.
    Annie Fields, How to Help the Poor, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1884, 42.Google Scholar
  16. 52.
    Paul DiMaggio, “Cultural Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth-Century Boston: the Creation of an Organizational Base for High Culture in America,” Richard Collins et al., Eds., Media, Culture and Society: A Critical Reader, London: SAGE Publications, 1986, 199.Google Scholar
  17. 56.
    Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984, 107.Google Scholar
  18. 58.
    Robert Stradling and Meirion Hughes, The English Musical Renaissance, 1860–1940, London: Routledge, 1993, 17.Google Scholar
  19. 63.
    DiMaggio, “Cultural Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth-Century Boston, part II: The Classification and Framing of American Art,” Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 4, No. 4 (October, 1982), 306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 66.
    A culture that was clearly intended to separate groups along class and ethnic lines. For the creation of high culture in nineteenth-century America see DiMaggio, “Cultural Entrepreneurship,” and Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988; for a sociological/theoretical overview see Bourdieu, Distinction.Google Scholar
  21. 81.
    N. G. Annan, “The Intellectual Aristocracy,” Studies in Social History: A Tribute to G. M. Treveyan, London: Longman, Green & Co., 1955, 243–287.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Susan K. Harris 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan K. Harris

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations