"it's a marvel for a governess, I call the sisterhood to witness"
19th Century Angels
Public Domain19th Century Angels - Credit: Matevž Langus

This was indeed a marvel for a governess. At the time of the 1841 census, some 32,403 women were employed in this capacity. It was not, however, a role many aspired to. The governess’ life was one of isolation, sexual repression and humiliation. Though plenty formed positive relationships with the children in their care, this was far assured. According to Philip Allingham's The Figure of the Governess:

Victorian charge, 1840-1843
Public DomainVictorian charge, 1840-1843 - Credit: Sir Edwin Landseer

The governess's charges would often torment her by refusing to do their lessons, throwing her work-bag into the fire, or forcing her to take them out to the garden to play with them, knowing full well that her lonely meal was getting cold. The larger children might even assault their governess, and the more ambitious boys might try to harass her sexually.

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