The Ladies’ Dining Society – an influential friendship network

One of the first all-women discussion clubs, it was formed in Cambridge in 1890 by twelve university wives and their friends: Caroline Jebb, Mary Paley Marshall, Ida Darwin, Eleanor Sidgwick, Kathleen Lyttelton, Ellen Darwin, Mary Ward, Louise Creighton, Margaret Verrall, Maud Darwin, Fanny Prothero and Eliza Von Hügel. The surviving members of the group met every year until the outbreak of war in 1914.

There are also entries on the Ladies’ Dining Society in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2016) and on Wikipedia (2019), both based on my research.

Further reading:

Christopher Brooke, A History of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge University Press, 1993), volume 4: 1870-1990. A multi-volume, highly readable history of the period.

Gwen Raverat Period Piece (Faber and Faber, 2002)This best-selling memoir by Charles Darwin’s granddaughter has never been out of print since its first publication in 1952.

Rita McWilliams Tullberg Women at Cambridge (Cambridge University Press, 1998). The story of the long struggle for women students to be accepted as full members of the university.

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