Religion, Women’s Education and Oxford

  • Helen LoaderEmail author


One of Mary’s earlier biographers, William S. Peterson considered that T. H. Green was ‘just the sort of thinker who would naturally appeal to Mrs Ward’. In this chapter, I trace how Mary’s deep understanding and awareness of the Christian religion and theological debates circulating in Oxford pre-disposed her to Greenian idealism. I consult a range of biographical sources and her juvenilia to investigate the significance of Mary’s female relatives, friends and associates in shaping her education and equipping her with the tools to negotiate the religious and gender barriers she faced in pursuing her education from her early years as a schoolgirl in the 1850s, to her life as a young middle-class woman living in Oxford in the early 1880s. I argue that despite having no formal recognition from Oxford University, Mary’s social status, academic ability and talent as a writer enabled her to establish herself as a scholar and follower of Green at a time when, as Joan Burstyn has shown, the religious communities of the universities had the greatest resistance to and fear of Victorian women gaining access to education.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for History of Women’s EducationUniversity of WinchesterWinchesterUK

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