Fanny Jock Sturges was a bold and outspoken woman who gained fame in the nineteenth century for her stand against societal norms. Though Fanny was born into wealth and privilege, she broke from the norm by refusing to marry, choosing to live as a single woman. Instead of conforming to what society expected, Fanny became an acclaimed designer and inventor. Through her creations, she demonstrated how women could use their skills to support themselves independently and without marriage as an obligation. As a result of her unconventional lifestyle, Fanny faced ostracism from society but received widespread admiration in literary circles. Her story is remarkable and packed with fascinating details that shed light on life during the Victorian era.
The life of Fanny Jock Sturges
Fanny Jock Sturges was born in 1828 in London, England, to the wealthy and prominent Dr. Benjamin Sturges and Anna Jock. The family was part of London’s upper-class society and was connected to members of the Royal family. Fanny’s father was a medical doctor, social reformer, and inventor; her mother was from a French family. Fanny’s parents were devoted to each other and to raising Fanny and her three brothers in a happy and healthy home environment. Fanny was a gifted child and was especially gifted at drawing and design. Although she was surrounded by a loving and supportive family, Fanny was the only one of her siblings who did not marry.
Why Fanny declined to marry
As a young lady, Fanny was pursued by suitors and courted by several men. However, she declined to marry any of them. Fanny later wrote that she was “sick of endless social engagements” and that she “disliked the idea of marrying almost as much as I disliked the process of being courted.” During the Victorian era, women were expected to marry and produce children. However, Fanny was fiercely independent and did not want to be dependent on a husband for her livelihood. Instead, she wanted to support herself through her own skills and talent. She believed that marriage would stifle these ambitions and believed that many women were trapped by the expectation to become wives. Fanny was also fiercely independent and did not want to be dependent on a husband for her livelihood. Instead, she wanted to support herself through her own skills and talent. She believed that marriage would stifle these ambitions and believed that many women were trapped by the expectation to become wives.
Fanny’s path to becoming a successful designer
After refusing to marry, Fanny began to support herself by designing fabric patterns and wallpapers. Her career began when she partnered with her mother and her mother’s business partner to re-create a wallpaper pattern that her father had invented. She then partnered with a friend to create a new fabric design. Both designs were a huge success and were purchased by many upper-class clients. Her success in these businesses allowed Fanny to become financially independent and she used her earnings to support her family. As her reputation as a designer grew, Fanny partnered with a cousin who she had known as a child. Fanny and her cousin were soon designing fabric and wallpaper for some of the most famous people in the world and became incredibly successful. Their designs were used in the homes of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. As a result of her success as a designer, Fanny became friends with writers and artists who were members of London’s “Bohemian” circle, including Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray.
Other contributions by Fanny Jock Sturges
Fanny Jock Sturges was a voracious reader, and as a young woman she was deeply moved by the plight of slaves in the Southern United States. As a result of her reading, Fanny became a prominent abolitionist, speaking out publicly against slavery. She was also a suffragette who believed in a woman’s right to vote in elections. However, Fanny did not participate in “public demonstrations” and believed that “women [were] better outside the political sphere,” as their role was “best confined to the home.” In addition to her work as an abolitionist and suffragette, Fanny Jock Sturges was also a skilled poet who wrote about social issues. She once wrote the following verse about child labor: “Will it be long, I wonder, ‘Til childhood’s joyous span Is lengthened out to manhood’s length And womanhood’s length again?”
The legacy of Fanny Jock Sturges’ life
Despite her many contributions to society, Fanny Jock Sturges is largely unknown today. Her name is mentioned only in a few biographies and she is rarely written about in history books. However, her story is worth telling and her life is an inspiration to women who are interested in a career in the arts. Fanny was a trailblazer who defied societal expectations and proved that women can be successful without marriage. Though she faced ostracism from society, she received widespread admiration in literary circles. Her story is remarkable and packed with fascinating details that shed light on life during the Victorian era.