The millennium has sharpened perspectives on the history of women in twentieth-century Britain. Many features of the contemporary gender order date only from the last decades of the century - the expectation of equal opportunities in education and the work-place, sexual autonomy for the individual and tolerance of a variety of family forms. The years dominated by the two World Wars saw real advances towards equal citizenship and legal rights, and a growing sense of the impact on women of 'modernity' in its various forms, including consumerism and the mass media. But values inherited from the Victorians were still reflected in the class hierarchy, the policing of sexuality and the male-breadwinner family.
This anthology of original sources, accompanied by a state-of-the-art bibliography, illustrates patterns of continuity and change in women's experience and their place in national life. An introductory survey provides an accessible overview and analysis of controversial issues, such as the relationship between 'first', 'second' and 'third' wave feminism.
'A century of change and continuity in women's lives is masterfully narrated by Janet Howarth in this excellent reader. We grasp the myriad meanings of being a woman in twentieth-century Britain through the words of politicians and policymakers, feminists and agitators, social investigators and sociologists, novelists and poets, and we hear women's own voices in every key. Howarth's selection of texts offers a tantalising flavour of the rich resources available for exploring women's history, covering every subject from motherhood and work to politics and sexuality. Prefaced with a superb essay by the author synthesising major themes in the recent scholarship, Women in Britain is highly recommended for anyone teaching or studying this intriguing and capacious subject.' - Helen McCarthy, University Lecturer in Modern British History, University of Cambridge, 'This comprehensive collection of original sources on women in Britain from 1914 to the millennium is an invaluable asset for students studying contemporary British history. Informative and timely, it portrays the rich diversity of women's lives during this period.' - June Purvis, Professor of Women's and Gender History (Emerita), University of Portsmouth, 'Extracts from writings and statements by women if all classes, different races and supporters and opponents of gender equality bring to life diversity and change in women's experiences through the twentieth century. Reminding us that, even in the 1970s, the BBC believed that women lacked the `authority, consistency and reliability' to read the news, it provokes questions about what has and has not changed.' - Patricia M. Thane, Research Professor in Contemporary British History, King's College, London (KCL), 'This is an excellent resource for staff and students and will rapidly become a `go-to' book for students of history undertaking assignments on women in twentieth century Britain. The comprehensive introduction contextualises the primary sources brilliantly, also providing very useful historiographical insights. The documents are well chosen and very wide ranging offering readers a masterly survey of this important topic which is essential for any serious historian of the social history of modern Britain.' - Sue Bruley, Reader in Modern History, University of Portsmouth
Introduction 1. Class, Region and Ethnicity 2. Family and Work 3. Education 4. Sex and Sexualities 5. Feminisms and Femininity 6. The Great War, 1914-18 7. Franchise and After: the modern woman? 1918-39 8. War and Reconstruction, 1939-51 9. The Fifties and Sixties 10. Women's Lib to Post-Feminism? 1970 to the present Bibliography