At a time when women were expected to stay at home, several women were making scientific breakthroughs that gained them the respect and admiration of their colleagues. Mary Anning's skill at finding and collecting fossils helped develop the new subject of palaeontology. Mary Buckland's drawings helped spread this knowledge and led us to a new understanding of where we came from.

How good a Victorian are you?

You are from a nice, wealthy, upper class family...

When you are with your father, what do you call him?

How much do you see your parents each day?
Not very much

You are a Victorian girl.  What do your parents most want you to do?
To get married as soon as possible

How many servants are in your house?
Lots: a butler, cook, and many maids

Your family isn't as wealthy, but it is one of the many Victorian middle class families living in London...

The place smells bad because...
People have been pouring sewage into the River Thames

As a boy your parents are paying for you to go to school.  What subjects do you learn?
Latin and Greek

You are working class...

Your family is surviving, but only just.  What do you have to do to help?
Work in a coal mine for up to 16 hours each day

Your younger brother had to stop being a chimney sweep because...
...he became too big and couldn't fit up the chimney

You are the poorest of the poor and are in a workhouse to survive...

What do you wear?
A plain uniform

Do you see you parents much?
No, not really

Curriculum Links 


Lower key stage 2 Year 3


Writing - Composition


A study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils' chronological knowledge beyond 1066


Scottish Curriculum Links

Literacy and English 

LIT 2-16a

Reading - Understanding, analysing and evaluating

Social Studies


SOC 2-04a

People, past events and societies

Comparing and contrastong a society in the past with my own and contributing to a discussion of the similarities and differences.


Rocky shores

AnningBuckland_264x200Mary Anning was not born into a rich family.  In fact, when she was young, finding fossils was more about selling them than making a great discovery. 

On the other hand, Mary Buckland was born into a relatively wealthy family and had spent a lot of her childhood with a family in Oxford.  She drew well and collected fossils.  In her early twenties she had already worked for some of the leading palaeontologists (who are experts in prehistoric life, such as dinosaurs) in the world, which was very unusual for a woman at the time.  She married a palaeontologist named William Buckland.  They worked together, with Mary providing many of the drawings, which was a very important part of making new dinosaur discoveries.

Would Mary Anning ever have met Mary Buckland?  It seems likely that they did know each other, although they may never have met.  They both would have worked with the same people, and Louis Agassiz, a friend of Mary Buckland, named two fossils after Mary Anning to show his appreciation of her work.

Even if they had met they could never have been friends.  Victorian society was based on classes: the working class, the middle class and the upper class.  Each class followed many rules of 'etiquette', or how you were supposed to behave.  Apart from at work, the different classes would have spent very little time together.

During this time, society started to change dramatically.  Working people became wealthier, women started to demand equality with men, and it became compulsory for children to go to school.  By the time Queen Victoria died, Britain was a very different place from the one she became queen of 63 years earlier.


How good a Victorian are you?

Take the quiz online here,

or download the pdf worksheet.