Research Output

Carpenter, Mary

  Nineteenth-century reformer Mary Carpenter (1807–1877) established an international profile as prolific author and public speaker with a focus on educational and penal reform. After initial reluctance, she also supported the women’s suffrage movement late in life. In a series of pioneering studies, Carpenter outlined her views on reformatory education for poor and criminalized young people. She also wrote on adult penal reform as well as educational and correctional institutions in India, following four visits to the subcontinent. Her views were progressive in that they emphasized preventive measures and reformation rather than punishment. Carpenter’s writings on India echo her concern with social responsibility in the context of reform efforts back home but explicitly converge with a discourse of civilization, underlining Britain’s self-image as a benign imperial power that should set an example for the rest of the world. A pioneering female reformer, Carpenter gained recognition in her own country and abroad, serving as expert witness in the House of Commons and being invited to interview with Queen Victoria.

  • Date:

    29 January 2020

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Springer International Publishing

  • DOI:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Schwan, A. (2020). Carpenter, Mary. In L. Scholl (Ed.), The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women's WritingSpringer.



Female reformer, Reformatory schools, Ragged schools, Industrial schools, Educational reform, Penal reform, Prisons, Juvenile delinquents, Women, India

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