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Noteworthy Victorians: Models of Benevolence

While the importance of "doing good unto others" was widely discussed in many Victorian magazines, such activities often carried an aura of condescension toward those "less fortunate." A handful of noteworthy Victorians, however, rose above issues of class, social and gender distinctions and strove (with varying degrees of success) to truly change the world in which they lived. For noteworthy pre-Victorian benevolent figures, see the section in Historic Figures.

Ashburton, Lady Louisa - Gentlewomen Who Devote Their Lives to the Poor (GOP 1898)
Lady Louisa Ashburton; The Misses Skinner, friends to girls in business; Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, pioneer prison-visitor; Mrs. Starey, assistant to the blind; Baroness Burdett-Coutts; Miss MacPherson.
Burdett-Coutts, Baroness - See Ashburton, above
Fry, Elizabeth - See Ashburton, above
Gilbert, Bessie - Bessie Gilbert, by Alice King (GOP 1892)
"This blind woman...determined that...blind men and women should be enabled to take a reasonable, active place in the community, and to live by the work of their own brains or hands."
Jones, Agnes - Agnes Jones (GOP 1885)
According to Florence Nightingale, "This young lady in less than three years reduced one of the most disorderly workhouse populations to something like Christian discipline... She inspired 50 nurses and probationers with her own admirable spirit...she converted the Poor Law Board to her views...and won the hearts of the paupers."
MacPherson, Miss - See Ashburton, above
Marsden, Kate - Kate Marsden, and Her Mission to Russia and Siberia, by Emma Brewer (GOP 1891)
"This wonderful and dangerous mission... is to travel through Russia up to the remote parts of Siberia to see for herself the condition of the lepers...and to find some means of alleviating their misery and improving their physical condition..."
Shaftesbury, Lord - "I Once Knew an Earl:" A Girl's Grateful Memories of the Late Lord Shaftesbury, by H.A. M'Caul (GOP 1886)
Skinner, The Misses - See Ashburton, above
Starey, Mrs. - See Ashburton, above
Walther, Madame Andre - A Beautiful Old Lady - Madame Andre Walther (GOP 1889)
In memory of a charitable French noblewoman.

Copyright © 2017 by
Moira Allen.
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Magazine Abbreviations:
CFM = Cassell's Family Magazine GOP = Girl's Own Paper ILA = Illustrated London Almanack S = The Strand
AM = Atlantic Monthly C = Century Magazine D = Demorest's Monthly Magazine G = Godey's Lady's Book H = Harper's Monthly
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