a1 Westfield College, University of London
Of the making of books on the women's rights movement there is no end, but detailed study of the ways in which the role of women changed in the second half of the nineteenth century has by comparison hardly begun. Yet it is clearly such investigations alone which can show how far the conventional stress upon feminism has been well judged. The religious activities of nineteenth-century British society are admittedly very far from being the area in which the greatest changes occurred in this connexion. Nevertheless for two reasons their investigation seems well worth while. In the first place, when ‘the woman question’ first attracted widespread attention among the British middle classes, the churches were still the great arbiters of public attitudes towards social issues, and the social influence of religious beliefs, practices and institutions was undoubtedly far more extensive than, for example, that of John Stuart Mill or the National Society for Women's Suffrage.