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  • Location: Manchester, London

Bodies of Light

Bodies of Light

Why a Booktrail?

1850s Manchester: A difficult place for women and women in medicine…

  • ISBN: 978-1847089090
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

Alethea Moberley is the elder daughter of Alfred and Elizabeth. Elizabeth  spends her time helping the poor and visiting the slums dotted around the city. She carries out these activities with such a passion that her children feel rather abandoned. She wields a rod of iron over them and controls their every move.

Whilst her sister May escapes through the love of art like her father, Ally wants to train to be a doctor but her mother even pushes her and despite her winning a scholarship this still doesn’t bring her mother’s approval.

This is the time of great strides for women in the field of medicine and education but in some places the real equality women yearned for was right at home.

Travel Guide

1850s, 1860s Manchester

“She knows, that at least, some of the Romans thought of Rome as Papa does of Manchester, not the centre of civilised life but a dirty, busy place whose main intellectual function is to focus artists’ minds on the quiet green spaces where they would rather be.”

The 1860s and 1870s were a very interesting time for women. The first college at Cambridge to accept women was open having denied them access to the hallowed halls of learning for so long. As for the level of medical education as illustrated in the novel, women would have found it nigh on impossible to have studied in such a prestigious field.

In 1864, the Contagious Diseases Act came into force. It was supposed to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections to soldiers by testing women suspected of working the streets. However Elizabeth is disgusted by this act as it encouraged the police to test women at will, with no other women present. The level of abuse, lack of hygiene was one thing. Taking women, any women, at will , examining them and then shutting them away in hospitals for long treatments was yet another example of how women were considered in society.

The reality and then the advances in medical health at this time illustrates the struggles and the determination of Elizabeth and Ally trying to change that and advance in their field.


Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:  Bodies of Light

Author/Guide Sarah Moss Destination: Manchester, London  Departure Time: 1850s, 1860s

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