When Denmark introduced compulsory education in 1814, the city of Copenhagen responsed by regulating the already existing private school system. Roughly half of the school age population went to some kind of school and of those the overwelming majority attended private schools, most of which were run by women. The book tells the story of these women, their schools and pupils on the 150 private schools from 1790-1820. Carol Gold's contention is that these private schools and their teachers were much better than is presently assumed in Danish historiography. The teachers were all literate; they could read and most of them could write. The education provided for girls ranged from the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic plus needlework in the beginner schools, to the "scientific" subjects of history, geography, natural sciences and foreign languages in the more advanced academies. Furthermore, the schools formed the basis of the Copenhagen school system which was established at the beginning of the 19th century.