The Surplus Woman is an important contribution to a growing international literature on the history of single women. Its chief strength is its affirmation of marital status as a central category of analysis for historians.
For obvious reasons, the inter-war period has long been a flourishing area of enquiry in German history; in comparison, the literature on France has looked like rather a poor relation.
Deborah Simonton’s Women in European Culture and Society: Gender, Skill and Identity from 1700 purports a ‘straightforward agenda – to explore European women’s relationship to their culture and society since about 1700’ (p. 1).
While there has been sustained focus on modern women’s relationship to their culture and society, and, with the upcoming centennial commemorations of the First World War a surge of renewed interest in the art generated by the conflict, war-related imagery produced by women artists remains largely overlooked.
In recent decades historians, postcolonial theorists and feminist scholars have demonstrated how, in a variety of geographical settings, gendered stereotypes supported the conquest and domination of overseas territories by European colonial regimes.
Writing in Macmillan’s Magazine a few years after the denouement of the Crimean War, Thomas Hughes, author of Tom Brown’s School Days, declared that this conflict’s ‘drama ...