Servants & Gentlewomen to the Golden Land

The Emigration of Single Women from Britain to Southern Africa, 1820-1939

Cecillie Swaisland



Too often, the emigration of women has been treated as an adjunct to that of men, especially in the case of families travelling together. In significant ways, however, the emigration of single women from Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries was distinct from the general movement. It was rooted, in the main, in those features of British society peculiar to their sex, and also in conditions in the colonies that made the venture possible for them. What factors would cause a woman to leave all she has known for the uncertainty and danger of a 'wild' colony half a world away? How did these women adapt to the unique circumstances of life in southern Africa?


[Swaisland] has undertaken a mammoth task in Servants and Gentlewomen to the Golden Land. Her book makes a significant contribution to women's history using personal correspondence in conjunction with other primary and secondary sources. ― Anthropological Forum


Cecillie Swaisland studied sociology at the London School of Economics. She lived for more than 30 eventful years in Africa and Asia.