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 1960s, popular leisure has been studied by successive generations of British social historians. Questions of class, of culture and of identity have been central to the development of this literature. Celebrations of distinctively plebeian customs have contended with pessimistic analyses of mass culture as a form of social control.
Pacifists, Patriots and the Vote offers fresh and insightful answers to questions about the British women's movement during the Great War that Jo Vellacott was instrumental in reopening exactly thirty years ago.
The 1950s is a comparatively under-researched area for gender studies. Anyone wanting to understand the constructed gender roles which underpinned not only girls' and women's lives but also those of boys and men, would do no better than to start with this excellent book.
Previous investigators, whom Todd scrupulously acknowledges, have focused, she argues, on London and on urban communities such as Preston and the Potteries with a strong tradition of working wives—or on the world beyond work.
James M. Smith’s book, Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment (2007) fills a significant gap in research about the Magdalen laundries and their impact on Irish society. Frances Finnegan’s Do Penance or Perish (2001) has also tackled the subject, but her study is confined to the Good Shepherd asylums that operated in Ireland.
Georgine Clarsen has produced a fascinating account of women motorists in the first three decades of the automobile age. Her crisp and elegant prose takes the reader on a speedy trip over a wide range of terrain, indicating the importance of the car in the cultural politics of the early 20th century.
Barbara Hately-Broad’s purpose is to insert the neglected subject of British prisoner-of-war (POW) families into the history of army, navy and air force families during the Second World War, a subject that is itself rather thinly tackled by historians.
In 1886 the Glasgow Prayer Union (GPU) remembered in their customary prayers a woman across whom one of its ‘ladies’ had come. She had been ‘found lying very drunk near Cattle Market with young infant’. Concerned for the infant’s life, the unnamed philanthropist (not a word Smitley uses) takes the child to the nearby police station, ‘where the woman was also taken’ (p. 44).