Feel feminist fury at the stereotype of the intellectual female in late Victorian Glasgow. Shortly before women were first admitted to the University of Glasgow in 1890, their residence at the new women-only Queen Margaret’s College, a series of caricatures appeared in the Glasgow University Magazine. They were penned by a male undergraduate under the pseudonym of Madge Wildfire, an eccentric and ultimately tragic “tomboy” in Walter Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian.
On the left, a beautiful young lady with a halo of laurel leaves reads, at her feet books labelled MUSIC and ART, indicating the sort of accomplishments that might be deemed desirable in a woman by a male admirer. On the right, is her opposite: a witchlike crone with outsize feet and a satanic black cat. Spectacles perch on her elongated nose and her lips are pursed as she scowls by candlelight at a much larger document, a feather quill behind her ear. And the spined of the volumes on her bookshelf indicate the reading matter she chooses: Sophocles, Plato and ARISTOTLE.