Talk: How to Create the Perfect Wife

09 March 2013, 14:00 - 15:00

Free with Museum admission. Booking not required.

Join author and journalist WendyMoore as she talks about her latest book, How to Create the Perfect Wife: The Extraordinary Story of an Eighteenth-Century Foundling.

How to Create the Perfect Wife is the story of how Thomas Day, a young man of means, decided he could never marry a woman with brains, spirit or fortune. Instead, he adopted two girls from the Foundling Hospital, and set about educating them to become the meek, docile women he considered marriage material. Unsurprisingly, Day's marriage plans did not run smoothly. Having returned one orphan early on, his girl of choice, Sabrina Sidney, would also fall foul of the experiment. From then on, she led a difficult life, inhabiting a curious half-world - an ex-orphan, and not quite a ward; a governess, and not quite a fiancee. But Sabrina also ended up figuring in the life of scientists and luminaries as disparate as Erasmus Darwin and Joseph Priestley, as well as that pioneering generation of women writers who included Fanny Burney, Maria Edgeworth and Anna Seward.

Wendy’s story is one that echoes her concerns about women's historic powerlessness, and captures a moment when ideas of human development and childraising underwent radical change.

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