The Hitchin Historical Society
Girton Book

Pioneering Women

The Origins of Girton College in Hitchin

by Val Campion

Although Girton college is now situated in Cambridge, it started life as a women's college based at Benslow House, Hitchin in 1869. For three years, pioneering, industrious and determined young women left their families to study at Benslow on the same terms as the male students at Cambridge, and it was only after they proved themselves equal to the rigours of study that the Cambridge dons relented and allowed them to join their lectures. Emily Davies founded the college with the support of Elizabeth Garrett, and several students went on to achieve great things. Val Campion has used original sources to uncover and record the events of these founding years at Benslow House and the lives of the women who studied there.

About the author

Val Campion is a Hitchin resident, former teacher and was the Society’s Membership Secretary for several years. In 2004 the Society published her transcription of the notebooks of local naturalist Joseph Ransom.


Price £8.95
Published by Hitchin Historical Society 2008
ISBN 978-0955241130
Printed in England by
Design by

Paperback 64 pp. Illustrated

This page was last updated on 3 January 2009