Social Conduct Literature Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Anonymous (essay date 1774)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Preface to A Father's Legacy to His Daughters, by Dr. Gregory; Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, by Mrs. Chapone; and A Mother's Advice to Her Daughters, by Lady Pennington, Derby and Jackson, 1774, pp. v-x.

[In the following foreword to an anthology of social conduct books, the author argues that a “liberal” education for women would result in improvements to society.]

Till this great truth be understood:—
          That all the pious duties which we owe
Our parents, friends, our country, and our God,
          The seed of every virtue here below
From discipline alone and early culture grow.

Dr Knox emphatically declares, “That...

(The entire section is 678 words.)

Suzanne W. Hull (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Practical Guidebooks,” in Chaste, Silent & Obedient: English Books for Women, 1475-1640, Huntington Library, 1982, pp. 41-70.

[In the essay below, Hull surveys the types and content of social conduct books published in England, primarily in the sixteenth century.]

More than half (eighty-five) of all the books for women were practical, how-to-do-it guides—though the advice was frequently general and philosophical. They gave counsel or instructions on how to educate young girls, how to live as a wife, as a widow, or as a nun, how to give birth to babies (although few gave any practical guidance on raising children), how to behave to servants, how...

(The entire section is 10517 words.)

Marjorie Morgan (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Courtesy, Conduct and Etiquette: An Overview,” in Manners, Morals and Class in England, 1774-1858, pp. 8-31. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.

[In the essay that follows, Morgan defines different types of English social conduct books—including those for men, women, and children—in the late eighteenth century.]

Considering the importance that English people themselves attached to manners, it is surprising that the literature written to promote proper behaviour has remained, until recently, largely unstudied by serious scholars. Only the courtesy book managed to escape this traditional neglect. John Mason's Gentlefolk in the Making (1935)...

(The entire section is 11815 words.)