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Aristocratic Women and Political Society in Victorian Britain$
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K. D. Reynolds

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207276.001.0001

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‘Party’ Politics: Metropolitan Political Society

‘Party’ Politics: Metropolitan Political Society

(p.153) 5 ‘Party’ Politics: Metropolitan Political Society
Aristocratic Women and Political Society in Victorian Britain

K. D. Reynolds

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the activities of the political hostesses, demonstrating their importance for Victorian political culture. It discusses other ways in which aristocratic women engaged with national politics, to substantiate the claim that political hostesses were exceptional only in their degree of engagement. Aristocratic women had a considerable voice in the political affairs of the nation, in part through their engagement with the political careers of the men in their families, and in part because of the nature of the aristocratic culture which blended politics and society inextricably. Both the broadening of the franchise and the rise of a more plutocratic society marginalized aristocratic women in politics. At mid-century, national politics still had a domestic character, and the family interests of aristocratic women had political importance. At court, this situation was reversed, as the Victorian monarchy strove to put a domestic face on public, political institutions.

Keywords:   political hostesses, political culture, party politics, Victorian monarchy, plutocratic society

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