My Article about a Remarkable Victorian Music Teacher: ‘An Extensive Musical Library: Mrs Clarinda Webster, LRAM’

Brio electronic archive for IAML(UK & Ireland) members

My latest article is on the IAML(UK & Ireland) website, in the members’ area, but paper copies will land on subscribers’ doormats and music library shelves this week! It’s about a strong and determined Victorian music teacher, who survived domestic abuse and made a remarkable career for herself – and I reveal her survey of music in Victorian public libraries, that I discovered literally by digging around online. (I’m rather pleased with this one – and it’s illustrated!)

Here are the details and the abstract:- 

McAulay, Karen E., ‘An Extensive Musical Library’: Mrs Clarinda Webster, LRAM, in Brio Vol.59 no.1, 29-42

Although there has been the perception that middling-class women’s lives were confined to domestic circles, there are plenty of examples that directly challenge this idea. The late Victorian Clarinda Augusta Webster ran a music school and a school for young ladies. She escaped domestic violence, overcame personal tragedy, and created a highly successful career first in Aberdeen and then in London. She published, gave talks, was active in professional circles, and travelled both to Europe and America. She also conducted a ground-breaking survey on music library provision in late nineteenth century Britain, delivering her findings to the Library Association. Although her report has not been traced in its entirety, many of its findings were reported in newspapers, enabling us to piece together the results of her investigations.  This article celebrates the sheer determination of a talented woman to make the most of her skills and create opportunities for advancement. It also demonstrates the perceived importance of music in wider late Victorian life. 

It should be possible to read this Brio article in a music library somewhere near you, and it will also eventually appear on the RCS research repository (Pure). But if you can’t get sight of a copy, please feel free to message me and I’ll share the proofs.


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