London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low & Searle, 1873. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding stamped in black and gilt. All edges stained red. Bookplate of the Fraser Institute on the front pastedown; small binder's ticket to the rear pastedown. Front hinge a bit tender but holding well. Collates xii, 284, 48: complete. Internally a clean, tight, square copy of this work on women's education and employment, which OCLC records at only 8 institutions worldwide, with only 1 of those in the U.S. A scarce work in trade as well, this is currently the only copy on the market, with none appearing in the modern auction record.
"The interests of women and men are identical, one, and inseperable." So Phillips initiates her argument on the need to expand and improve women's education, particularly as it applies to their employment. Admitting that the topic is well-trod territory, she points out that she must lend her voice to the debate specifically because it has not been adequately solved and is occurring at a time when "our whole system of national education is being readjusted, reendowed, refixed." Indeed, the 1870s in England saw a rising clamour of proposals and arguments for the improvement of national education, particularly as high levels of urban poverty resulted in many children landing either in the poorhouse or in factory work. Here, Phillips identifies an opportunity to assert women's right to education as well. "The claims of half the nation to such a share of that national provision for education is absolutely necessary to fit them to discharge their half of the nation's work." In what follows, Phillips provides a brief background on the history of women in England before moving forward into the areas where they currently need education -- to discharge their work as wives and mothers running households, to efficiently do domestic labour as housekeepers and cooks, as well as to function in key fields like teaching, nursing, and the running of poorhouses. In each circumstance, the book outlines those positions and how education will ensure their proper execution. A logical argument for equal access to education, English Matrons notable separates itself from debates on suffrage and citizenship to focus solely on the topic of the important work women are already performing. Fine (Item #2685)