Caroline FOX


Caroline Fox, through her oft-quoted diary of a young Quaker woman growing up in Cornwall, has imparted much information contributing to a social history of the life and times of the rising middle classes in the county. Their travels, their pre-occupations, and not least their contributions to the institutions of 19th-century Cornwall in the form of learned associations and benevolent organisations, are the messages coming from readings of her journals. She and her sister, Anna Maria FOX, are acknowledged as the instigators of what was to become the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society of Falmouth, with its educational opportunities and exhibitions of the arts and sciences of not only their wealthy and sometimes aristocratic friends, but also the mass of working people employed in the mines and commerce of the area.

Round points out specifically, in her essay, that it was chiefly owing to Miss Fox's influence that the artistic side of the RCPS's work received due attention in relation to 'a certain tendency in those who concerned themselves with popular education to over-value physical science and to lightly regard those studies - whether in Literature or Art - which concerned themselves with the Beautiful rather than the Useful'. (RCPS Annual Report, 1897 in memorium).  Because of this insistence on the part of Anna Maria, the Annual Exhibitions displayed both scientific and mechanical inventions and improvements, and also productions in the fine and useful arts, with prizes offered for those performances adjudged worthy of rewards. [abstracted summary]