Recent Hungarian and foreign researches into the reading customs of women in the 18–19th centuries display a peculiar duality. Some researchers evaluate the rapid growth in the number of reading women as a sign of emancipation, while others opine that reading novels further aggravated the social and cultural subordination of the women. Though many books written specifically for women – including calendars and literary almanacs – were basically aimed to prepare the women for their traditional social roles of good mother, good wife and good housewife, they also carried contents that served to enhance the women's level of culture, cultural competence and female self-awareness. The visual rendering of this endeavour is met with in the studied two series of Viennese book illustrations dating from the onset of the 19th century. Six pictures of a calendar show the woman's honoured place in the middle-class family, while the frontis-pieces of a book series popularizing the natural sciences depict women and girls moving as easily in the communal spaces of culture and learning as men.