From Plymouth to Parliament

A Rhetorical History of Nancy Astor's 1919 Campaign
Musolf, Karen J.
Date published: 
March 1999

Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat in the British House of Commons, has been a fascinating subject for most of the twentieth century. Recognized for efforts on behalf of women and remembered for her witty exchanges with Winston Churchill, she was also a campaigner par excellence, winning seven consecutive elections in twenty-five years. Offering insights from a rhetorical perspective, From Plymouth to Parliament is the first in-depth exploration of Astor's initial campaign in 1919. Author Karen Musolf reveals how Astor surmounted obstacles in creating an acceptable persona, gathering women voters, confronting opponents, chastising hecklers, and coping with an unruly press. Musolf draws upon a great number of primary sources provided by the Astor archives, and focuses on the dynamic interplay of voices heard throughout the campaign. From Plymouth to Parliament is a highly readable, engaging work that tells the story of the pathbreaking campaign that launched the career of a popular politician.