Rebel women between the wars

Fearless writers and adventurers

By Sarah Lonsdale

Rebel women between the wars
Hardcover +
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526137111
  • Publish Date: Oct 2020
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526137128
  • Publish Date: Oct 2020
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Buy Now

    Book Information

    • Format: eBook
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3712-8
    • Published Date: October 2020


    What did it mean to be a 'rebel woman' in the interwar years? Taking the form of a multiple biography, this book traces the struggles, passions and achievements of a set of 'fearlessly determined' women who stopped at nothing to make their mark in the traditionally masculine environments of mountaineering, politics, engineering and journalism. From the motorist Claudia Parsons to the 'star' reporter Margaret Lane, the mountaineer Dorothy Pilley and the journalist Shiela Grant Duff, the women charted in this book challenged the status quo in all walks of life, alongside writing vivid, eye-witness accounts of their adventures. Recovering their voices across a range of texts including novels, poems, journalism and diaries, Rebel women between the wars reveals their inch by inch gains won through courageous and sometimes controversial and dangerous actions.


    'I loved this engaging and often thrilling glimpse of a cohort of women between the wars who defied social expectations, and lived the lives they wanted to live. Their interweaving stories of quiet subversion and bold visibility provoked me to both admiration and the irrepressible urge to keep reading bits out to people.'
    Lissa Evans, bestselling author of Old Baggage and Crooked Heart

    'A brilliant book which brings to life the incredible stories of inspirational women. Their acts of courage changed the world for good. This wonderful book is a must read for the next generation of rebels.'
    Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress

    'Every rebel heart will be uplifted by the lives of these women; they broke with convention, rocked boats, and dared to do the unexpected. This book sends the message loudly 'yes you can' and should be read by everyone putting their own toe in the water, seeking courage to live out their dreams.'
    Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

    'Lonsdale's subjects are [...] pioneering journalists who weaponize words to attack the citadels of the Establishment. This, with their energy, is what draws them together.'

    'Engaging and pacily written'.
    History Today

    'Truly inspiring reading.'
    T P Fielden, Daily Express (Books of the Year 2020)

    There is so much of interest in this book, from revelations of the female support networks that helped some
    women to occasional female rivalry. It will clearly be a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand how women who wanted to defy social expectations and lead fulfilling lives in the early part of the 20th century used writing as a weapon.'
    Anne Sebba, British Journalism Review

    'Rebel women between the wars is structured around multiple biography and focuses on individuals that most people, including journalists, would accept have been 'lost to history.' The names Shiela Grant Duff, Margaret Lane, Rose Macauley, Leah Manning, Stella Martin, Claudia Parsons, Dorothy Pilley, Naomi Royde-Smith, Alison Settle, Edith Shackleton, and Kylie Tennant do not stir the mainstream memory of cultural history. Dr. Lonsdale's research and writing in this valuable and significant book makes it very clear that they should.'
    Tim Crook, Journal of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

    This interesting book explores the lives of some determined women who, between the wars in 20th-century Britain, were keen to make their mark in the masculine public sphere. Drawing on letters, diaries and published commentary, Lonsdale paints a vivid picture of the motorist Claudia Parsons, the reporter Margaret Lane, the mountaineer Dorothy Pilley and the journalist Shiela Grant Duff, among others. While personal papers have been carefully preserved for many of these figures, the journalist Edith Shackleton proves a more elusive figure because she left no diary and very few letters. Informative and absorbing, this book adds much to our knowledge of how some neglected women in the 1920s and 1930s dared to break free from social convention.'
    June Purvis, Times Higher Education


    Introduction: 'The women at the gate'
    1 Female friendship, work and collaboration
    2 Alternative channels
    3 Parallel platforms and safe havens
    4 Risk-takers
    5 Parental influence and family networks
    6 Rejecting the feminine
    7 Formal networks
    8 Explosive engagement
    9 Hiding in plain sight


    Sarah Lonsdale is Senior Lecturer in Journalism at City, University of London

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