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CONSTANCE MAYNARD

Constance Louisa Maynard (1849-1935), was a pioneer of women’s education and the first Mistress of Westfield College.

A prolific writer, she kept different diaries to reflect upon the different aspects of her life. In herer ‘Green Book’ diaries, she explored her emotional and spiritual responses to the events of her life. Maynard also wrote a detailed autobiography, which she worked on for over 30 years.

Now available online for the first time, the diaries and autobiography reveal her experiences of joining the first generation of women students at Girton College, her role as Mistress of Westfield College, and her relationships with women.

To complement the digitised material, this online gallery will highlight key themes that feature throughout these texts. It draws upon additional archive collections available in the Queen Mary Archive to present her writings in the context of her public life.

Key themes include:

Religion

Constance was brought up in a deeply religious evangelical Christian household. Many of her diary entries detail the sermons she attended, her favourite psalms and bible passages, and her constant quest to be ‘good enough’ for God’s love. Her religious conviction and reasoning continued throughout her life, even as she encountered new experiences outside of the confines of domestic security.

Education

Constance Maynard was the first woman to read Moral Sciences (philosophy) at Cambridge completing her studies in 1875. But she had to wait 53 years to formally receive her degree from Girton College, in 1933.

Faith was a driving force for Constance and inspired the Christian ethos of Westfield College. The College opened on 2 October 1882 with just five students and two members of staff, including Constance Maynard as Mistress. It was founded upon ‘…a Scriptural basis, and conducted on distinctly religious principles…’

Sexuality

One aspect of Constance Maynard’s life which still intrigues researchers today is her close relationships with women. Her diary entries detail intimate encounters with students and friends, some of which she recalled openly in her autobiography