How to Create the Perfect Wife

Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate

By Wendy Moore
(Basic Books, Hardcover, 9780465065745, 368pp.)

Publication Date: April 2013

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Thomas Day knew exactly the sort of woman he wanted to marry. Pure and virginal yet tough and hardy, she would live with him in an isolated cottage, completely subservient to his whims. As Day soon discovered, the woman of his dreams didn’t seem to exist in Georgian society—but rather than concede defeat, Day set out to create her. He adopted two young orphans and, guided by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the principles of the Enlightenment, attempted to teach them to be model wives. Day hoped to eventually marry one of his wards, but the experiment inevitably backfired—though not before he had taken his theories about marriage, education, and femininity to their most shocking extremes.

In How to Create the Perfect Wife, acclaimed biographer Wendy Moore tells the captivating story of this bizarre experiment, illuminating the radicalism—and deep contradictions—at the heart of the Enlightenment.

About the Author

Wendy Moore is a veteran journalist and author of The Knife Man, which won the Medical Journalists’ Association Consumer Book Award, and the best-selling Wedlock. Moore lives in London.

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

Some people, unlucky in love, turn to matchmaking services. Thomas Day, an 18th century British intellectual, adopted two girls from an orphanage in order to mold them into the women of his dreams. Reviewer Cord Jefferson says Wendy Moore's history is so adroitly written it reads like a novel. More at

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