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'Back to the land': Lady Warwick and the movement for women's collegiate agricultural education

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Within the late-Victorian and Edwardian movement to promote women's advancement in farming and gardening, Frances Greville, countess of Warwick, founded the first women-only collegiate centre for agricultural education in 1898. Initially affiliated with the University Extension College, Reading, her scheme relocated to Studley, Warwickshire in 1903, where it flourished as an independent, private college. Historians have previously described the founding, development, and ultimate fate of Warwick's project, but in this article I consider the question of its status within the broader movement for women's collegiate agricultural education. As I show, Warwick's advocacy for a 'Back to the Land' ideology and women's scientific and practical instruction in the 'lighter branches of agriculture' added a decidedly rural, agrarian orientation to a movement otherwise dominated by an emphasis on urban horticulture; yet, despite her efforts, throughout its first decade, the scheme remained effectively trapped within the mould of horticultural education. The mismatch between Warwick's ideals and practical achievements established her as a visionary whose contributions ironically reinforced the very tendencies she hoped to counteract.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2014-06-01

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  • Agricultural History Review is the leading journal for the publication of original research in all aspects of agricultural and rural history. First published in 1952, the Review reflects the diversity of approaches which are possible in rural history. Its editors welcome submissions in any aspect of the history of agriculture, rural society and rural economy over the past millennium. Whilst it is not concerned with current policy debates, it is interested in considering discussions of the historical dimensions of current problems in rural society and food supply. The Review is especially strong in British rural history, but actively seeks submissions in European and American rural history and has no bar on submissions concerning the remainder of the world. It is also the journal of record for book reviews in the discipline.

    Agricultural History Review has an international editorial board. The current editors are Professor R. W. Hoyle, University of Reading, UK who is responsible for articles, and Professor H. R. French, University of Exeter who serves as editor for book reviews. The Review is fully peer-refereed.

    Agricultural History Review is published by the British Agricultural History Society from whom personal subscriptions may be obtained.
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