Why This Room is Special

Books spines from Compton Verney's Women's Library

The Imitation Books

Made from Morocco and calf leather and tooled with gilt, the imitation books were styled to complement John Gibbs’s cabinetry. The Victorians saw the boudoir as a space for relaxation and light reading, but there is nothing trivial about the imitation books on these shelves. These ‘mock’ books are sending a very real message about equality of mind – for all of the authors on the book spines are women. From Sappho to Mary Shelley, the women who wrote these books made important contributions to literature, science, politics, history and education. It is a powerful statement of women’s intellectual achievement through time and across national borders. For a full list of the original imitation books, click here.

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Mary Somerville

Mechanism of the Heavens (1831) and On the Connection of the Physical Sciences (1834)

Mary Shelley

Frankenstein (1818)


Lyric Poems

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Prometheus Bound (1833-1856), The Seraphim and Other Poems (1838) and Casa Guidi Windows (1851)

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