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The Diplomatic Service And The Position Of The Wives Of Diplomats

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Chapter Summary

The diplomatic service was part of the parliamentary, governmental and political elite of early Victorian society. The re-opening of Japan to the West coincided with the transition from a British diplomatic service where political patronage was central to any appointment, to a fully professional service, where the introduction of examinations eroded these close personal, nepotistic relationships. The narratives of the three diplomatic wives discussed in this chapter first gives us entrée to a feudal Japan newly opened to the West through the Letters of Mrs. Hodgson, and then, separated by a thirty-year period of unprecedented growth and Westernization, the writing of Mrs. Fraser and Baroness d'Anethan, show us a Japan emerging as a world power. Of the three diplomats' wives who have written of their experiences in Japan, it was only Mrs. Hugh Fraser who was exposed to the civil unrest which was specifically focused on the legations.

Keywords: British diplomatic service; diplomats' wives; early Victorian society; Japan; political patronage

10.1163/ej.9781905246731.i-327.23
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9781905246731.i-327.23
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