The tenacity of the Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS: they were awarded ‘Royal’ status in 1966) in maintaining their unique position in the voluntary sector must, in no small degree, be due to the powerful personality of its founder, the redoubtable Stella Charnaud, Lady Reading.
Elizabeth Freke has the distinction among my autobiographical acquaintance of being the memoirist I would least like to meet. This is not because she was toothless, lame, blind and probably bald and, as she said in 1711, 'a diseased criple with a rhumatisme and tisick confined to a chair for this eighteen months past' (p.158).
‘It is time to effect a revolution in female manners’ declared the Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792 ‘– time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world’.(1) Mary Wollstonecraft’s legacy, which had such important ramifications for the wa
Public Lives: Women, Family and Society in Victorian Britain by Eleanor Gordon and Gwyneth Nair is a meticulously researched study of the lives of middle-class families in Glasgow. In particular, they focus upon the residents of twelve streets drawn from the Claremont/Woodside/Woodlands estates, situated west of the city centre.
Laura E. Nym Mayhall begins her book by re-telling the familiar story of the arrest in 1909 of Marion Wallace Dunlop, a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which led to her imprisonment and notoriety as the ‘first hunger striker’. In doing so, she focuses on the action that led to the arrest.
Gender in History is a timely publication. The field of gender history is reaching maturity in two senses. Firstly, numerous studies have been published about the impact of gender at various times and places. Professor Merry Wiesner-Hanks draws on this wealth of scholarship and her own research to provide a welcome overview of gender in global history from prehistory to date.
The reader coming to this volume expecting a major new biography of Henry VIII’s second and most interesting queen is likely to be disappointed.
Scandals are titillating phenomena, intriguing and enjoyable for almost everyone except their victims. They often carry two highly attractive features: first sex, and second the opportunity of watching high and mighty people being revealed to have feet of clay and thus brought low.
The concept of ‘separate spheres’, or the organisation of society into a private, domestic, female world and an active, public, male domain, is closely associated with Victorian society and, arguably, has had a pervasive influence upon gender relations since. Women’s sphere was that of the home, or activities closely connected with it.
Since the 1970s historians have been redressing the longstanding omission of women from virtually all types of history. We now know much more about women’s experiences in the past, both in their own right and as contributors to larger historical events, than had previously been the case.