Histories of the Defeated: Writers Taking Sides in the 1930s

  • Diana Wallace


Looking back at the inter-war period, Storm Jameson saw it divided into two parts with the energetic twenties, ‘lively with ideas, dreams, hopes, experiments’ (Jameson, 1984, 292), superseded by the grim political urgencies of a struggle between opposing forces in the thirties:

I saw that two sides were struggling for mastery of the future. On one side was the idea of the Absolute State, with its insistence on total loyalty to the words and gestures of authority, its belief in the moral beauty of war, its appeal to the canaille: Germany awake, kill, hate, Sieg Heil, and the rest of it. On the other all that was still hidden in the hard green seed of a democracy which allowed me freedom to write and other women freedom to live starved lives on the dole. (293)


Woman Writer Country Dance Historical Fiction Communist Manifesto Winning Side 
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  1. 1.
    Ray Strachey’s The Cause (1928) was followed by her Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1931) and Our Freedom and its Results (1936).Google Scholar
  2. Sylvia Pankhurst’s The Suffragette Movement (1931).Google Scholar
  3. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence’s My Part in a Changing World (1938).Google Scholar
  4. Holtby’s Women (1934).Google Scholar
  5. Lady Rhondda’s This Was My World (1933). There were also numerous articles in Time and Tide and other periodicals, such as Vera Brittain’s report on the Suffrage Exhibition held by The Six Point Group in London in 1930 (Berry and Bishop, 1985, 102–5).Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    Other examples include Storm Jameson’s The Triumph of Time (1933) focusing on Yorkshire ship-builders.Google Scholar
  7. Clemence Dane’s Broome Stages (1931) centred on a theatrical family and, slightly later.Google Scholar
  8. Marguerite Steen’s huge The Sun is My Undoing (1941), depicting a family of Bristol slavers.Google Scholar

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© Diana Wallace 2005

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  • Diana Wallace

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