I came across this tongue in cheek article and thought it illuminating on attitudes towards women in the mid-19th Century which is the period in which my novel, “New Beginnings on Vancouver Island” is set.
“It appears from the Census that the people of Great Britain are the youngest in the world. We are not surprised at this result, and indeed we only wonder that there is any woman in England above the age of thirty, which we are convinced would have been impossible, had the ladies been left to make their own returns.
We have had a striking proof of the numerical strength of the Young England party, to which it seems that nearly the whole of the fair sex belongs. There is such a tendency to youth in our female population that we find them ranging themselves under the different heads of “children”, “girls”, “infants”, “maidens”, and “young women”, as if juvenility were a luxury to be enjoyed under as many different denominations as possible.
We verily believe that if the women had their own way, they would never adopt the epithet “old”, should they even live to be a hundred, and that they would class themselves in the category of “second childhood” rather than admit their arrival at the stage of anility. Such is the female horror of the vale of years, that a woman would sooner declare herself to be in her dot-age than to have reached that “certain age” which any figure above thirty is supposed to indicate.”
Punch Magazine, Vol. 27, July to Dec. 1854, p. 69.