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The Cult of Domesticity in the 1930s

  • Martin Pugh
Chapter

Abstract

‘In another fifty years’ time when social historians are writing deep books on the early twentieth century’, commented Woman in its first edition in 1937, ‘earnest hours will be spent in reconstructing the Woman of the Period. We ought to be able to tell them, since we are the living creature which they … will be trying to reconstruct.’ Even allowing for the hyperbole of an ambitious and optimistic editor, the writer has a point. Popular women’s magazines constitute an important but rather neglected source for the ordinary British woman of the inter-war period. For both the campaigns of the feminists and the strategies of the politicians designed to confine women to domesticity have to be seen in the context of the much more pervasive social and commercial pressures which reached out to the mass of women in their daily lives. Whether they merely reflected women’s ideas and behaviour or actively influenced them, they were too universal to be ignored.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Cynthia L. White, The Women’s Periodical Press in Britain 1946–76, Royal Commission on the Press Working Paper No 4 (HMSO, 1977), p. 9.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Robin Kent, Aunt Agony Advises: problem pages through the ages (1979), pp. 27, 247.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    J. M. Golby and A. W. Purdue, The Monarchy and the British People (1988), pp. 110–17.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Mary Grieve, Millions Made My Story (1964), p. 157.Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Ibid., 13 Apr. 1935, p. 57; see also Barbara Cartland, The Isthmus Years (1942), p. 164.Google Scholar
  6. 24.
    Cynthia L. White, Women’s Magazines 1693–1968 (1970), p. 112.Google Scholar
  7. 29.
    Elizabeth Roberts, A Woman’s Place (1984), pp. 125–8.Google Scholar
  8. 31.
    Ibid., pp. 82–3; Lady Bell, At the Works (1907), pp. 180–1.Google Scholar
  9. 32.
    Jeffery Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society (1981), p. 209.Google Scholar
  10. 33.
    A. H. Halsey (ed.), British Social Trends Since 1900 (1988), p. 75.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    Inez Jenkins, The History of the Women’s Institute Movement of England and Wales (1953), p. 13.Google Scholar
  12. 37.
    Janet Courtney, Countrywomen in Council (1933), pp. 145–51.Google Scholar
  13. 38.
    Gervas Huxley, Lady Denman G. B. E. 1884–1954 (1961), p. 74.Google Scholar
  14. 41.
    Margaret Liewelyn Davies, Women as Organised Consumers (1921), pp. 2–3.Google Scholar
  15. 43.
    Mary Stott, Forgetting’s No Excuse (1975), p. 24.Google Scholar

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© Martin Pugh 2000

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  • Martin Pugh

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