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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Sex No Crime: Women's Rights in Great Britain Before the Suffragettes

JSTOR Online

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” The opening sentence of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is the most famous of the author’s maxims and one of her cleverest, its deep irony soon to be revealed: men may want wives but women must have husbands. Because of discriminatory inheritance laws, single daughters often faced economic tragedy, a circumstance that befell Austen herself. By the mid 1800s, these unfair policies fomented a discussion about women’s rights that led to the launch of the women’s movement at the turn of the century. This exhibition illuminates the conversation that ignited a revolution. —C.J.F.

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