Sophie Bendleforth


It is the fate of many great women in history to sadly be forgotten, despite their contribution to society, because they were too bold, too unconventional.

This was the case as well for Sophie Bendleforth, inventor of the modern hand-held ringing bell. Like many women of her time, she was trained in music and developed an early interest for percussive instruments. Quickly she became more interested in the craft of instrument making than the music itself. A turning point in Bendleforth’s life was a trip to America in 1874. She was accompanying her father on a trip to visit rich relatives in Boston. There she made many friends who introduced her to new ideas of the era, and encouraged her to pursue her passion of instrument-crafting.

As word of her hobby came to her friends and spread through social circles, her unconventional behaviour was frowned upon, especially being seen as pursuing a “man’s profession” and neglecting her household duties. She pursued her passion despite the criticism. 

We came into possession of this collection of her personal belongings through an anonymous donation. Through this digital display we hope to restore the memory of these incredible woman whose fate as a female intellectual and inventor was sadly only too common in Victorian Britain. 

Through a selected few object we wished to give an overview of Sophie Bendleforth's life and achievements.


The Cor Institute of Victorian Studies