26 July 2020


If you have read the recent (pompously condescending) Quad Magazine and looked at page 8 ... "100 Years of Oxford degrees for women" ... you may have wondered who the five principals photographed together when they received their degrees on October 7 1920 were.

From the left:
(1) Miss Moberly of St Hilda's;
(2) Miss Penrose of Somerville;
(3) Mrs (Bertha) Johnson of the Societas Mulierum Oxoniae Privatim Studentium, later St Anne's;
(4) Miss Jourdain of St Hugh's;
(5) Miss Blake of the Lady Margaret's Hall.

Not a single "Ms" among them!!! !!! Glorious days!

Mrs Johnson was the first actually to receive a degree. Her husband, known as "the Johnner", was Chaplain of All Souls and taught in the Hon Sch of Modern History. He was a ferocious tutor; when one undergraduate objected "to being talked to like that", the Johnner replied "Sir, I am paid to be rude to you".

Mrs Johnson originally opposed the idea of women being admitted fully to the University as then constructed, on the grounds that it involved forcing women onto a Procrustean bed designed for men; Miss Moberly headed a college originally founded for women who did not wish their studies to be circumscribed by examinations.

When, in half a millennium's time, discerning historians look back on the twentieth century, I wonder if they might have some ideas about who were the real feminists.

At the aborted Encaenia this centenary year, 2020, the proposed honorands were all women.

Er ...


Pelerin said...

As soon as I saw the names of Miss Moberly and Miss Jourdain I was reminded of the two ladies bearing these names who visited Versailles (it must be the same ladies) and seemingly found themselves during the time of the French Revolution. It is a famous ghost story and because they were academics it does make you wonder about so called time slips.

Jhayes said...

According to this, the two ladies of Versailles were both (in succession) president/principal of St. Hugh's.

" Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, were visiting the gardens of Versailles. Moberly was the president of St Hugh’s College in Oxford, and Jourdain was her assistant at the time (who also went on to an esteemed academic career)....

Eleanor Jourdain, who succeeded Moberly as the principal of St. Hugh’s College in Oxford, was less fortunate and appears to have been haunted by the event for the rest of her life. Her behavior became increasingly erratic and she died suddenly in 1924 under somewhat mysterious circumstances."


PM said...

Asked at a university meeting (not at Oxford) for nominations of female philosophers to commemorate, a friend of mine suggested Elizabeth Anscombe, Dorothy Emmett and Phillipa Foot. The response, sad to say but not unexpected, was stony silence.

Pelerin said...

On googling further I was interested to see that both ladies were daughters of Anglican clerics one of whom was a Bishop.

Banshee said...

Hipparchia of Maroneia is much more of a fun philosopher than Hypatia of Alexandria.

I don't know, maybe I just like bringing philosophy to the point of hypothetical violence, because it does seem to clarify people's thoughts. But maybe it's a woman's thing, because my mother used to propose similar arguments.

I'm also very fond of Diane Duane's Star Trek philosopher/artist/experimental physicist character, the alien R't'lk. She said that when another physicist claimed that all matter was illusion, she bopped him one. QED.