Sarah Lonsdale

Well-organised and structured humanitarian organisations did offer women the chance to serve in public life during the interwar years, mostly in the fields of nursing and midwifery. This chapter examines the participation strategy of Francesca Wilson, a teacher whose application to volunteer during the First World War was initially rejected by the Quaker Friends. This chapter argues that through the interwar years, women became increasingly accepted by the Friends as important organisers and carers for children displaced and suffering due to war. This chapter also examines early humanitarian communications in the journals Reconstruction and The Friend, among others, and argues that they provided a platform for women to write about foreign affairs long before their presence on mainstream newspaper foreign pages was accepted. This chapter also looks at refugee work performed by the Quakers during the Spanish Civil War.

in Rebel women between the wars
The provincial assembly of Lyonnais
Stephen Miller

Historians have written about the growth of manufacturing in Lyonnais but have not explored the concrete ways it affected politics in the decades before the Revolution. I demonstrate that the political culture of the province promoted free trade as the means of furthering the expansion of local workshops. Immersed in this culture, the members of the provincial assembly publicly criticized the royal monopolies and tax farms inhibiting commerce. Yet when it came to actually reforming these institutions, they recoiled before the vested interests of local investors, court nobles, and royal finances. The discrepancy between the assembly’s liberal declarations and lack of action focused the gaze of commoners on the enduring privileges which, by all accounts, restricted opportunities and perpetuated poverty. People were thus motivated to join violent and fatal revolts in the summer of 1789 against the offices and personnel of the monopoly companies and tax farmers in St.-Étienne and Lyon.

in Feudalism, venality, and revolution
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Sarah Lonsdale

This chapter pulls all the strands of the book together, to contend that women were challenging the masculine public sphere in a wide variety of ingenious ways during the interwar period and that these pioneers paved the way for a wider acceptance of women as professionals. The chapter assesses some of the most important attributes and dispositions that women needed to succeed, including education, good social networks, a willingness to transgress or outrage and personal courage. The lack of a father was also a possible advantage during this period, since the absence of the key patriarchal figure from a young woman’s life could remove an enormous obstacle. This chapter ends by assessing the usefulness of biography as a method of analysis.

in Rebel women between the wars
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Stephen Miller
in Feudalism, venality, and revolution
Stephen Miller

This chapter explores how a revolution against the nobility took shape in a typical province in the heart of France. Louis XVI and his minister Jacques Necker created the first provincial assembly in Berry in 1778 with the goal of distributing taxes more equitably, improving infrastructure, and drawing criticism away from the crown. The experiment generated excitement across the province. In particular, I am the first to document the political paths of the duc de Béthune-Charost and Heurtault de Lamerville, nobles inspired by participating in the assembly to renounce feudal rights and improve the agriculture on their estates. But the comte d’Artois, the king’s brother and largest landholder in Berry, thwarted any infringements of his privileges. The rest of the provincial nobles, seeing their chance, followed suit and obstructed the assembly’s eight reforms. Commoners grew frustrated with this obstruction and reacted by taking part in revolts against seigneurial authority, forcing several nobles to flee the province in 1789.

in Feudalism, venality, and revolution
Sarah Lonsdale

This chapter argues that some women needed to take extreme action in order to escape from the life plotted for them, usually by their fathers. It examines the life of the Australian writer Kylie Tennant, who used her novels to critique interwar Australian society, particularly the White Australia Policy and the slum clearances of Depression-era Sydney. Tennant’s first two novels, Tiburon and Foveaux, are examined at length for their important and overlooked social messages; the chapter argues that Tennant was one of the first writers to warn against anthropogenic climate change in Australia. While Tennant’s strategy, which involved walking alone, through the bush, for hundreds of miles, worked, it came with enormous risks that few women would be willing to take.

in Rebel women between the wars
Sarah Lonsdale

Women’s friendships during the interwar period were contested and suspect. The single, professional or bachelor woman, or the woman who chose not to do her ‘biological duty’ and have children, was demonised in the press. However, as women began to gain footholds in the professions and were in a position to help their female friends, they achieved a method of access previously closed to them. This chapter first looks at the most famous example of female literary friendship in the interwar years, that of Winifred Holtby and Vera Brittain, and then examines two further pairs: the novelists Rose Macaulay and Naomi Royde-Smith, and the journalists Edith Shackleton and Alison Settle. This chapter concludes by asserting that there were many forms of professional friendship during the interwar years, and many women benefited both emotionally and professionally from them. It also includes an analysis of Alison Settle’s diary during the years she was editor of Vogue magazine.

in Rebel women between the wars
Author: Stephen Miller

Feudalism, venality, and revolution is about the political and social order revealed by the monarchy’s most ambitious effort to reform its institutions, the introduction of participatory assemblies at all levels of the government. It should draw the attention of anyone interested in the sort of social and political conditions that predisposed people to make the French Revolution. In particular, according to Alexis de Tocqueville’s influential work on the Old Regime and the French Revolution, royal centralization had so weakened the feudal power of the nobles that their remaining privileges became glaringly intolerable to commoners. Feudalism, venality, and revolution challenges this theory by showing that when Louis XVI convened assemblies of landowners in the late 1770s and 1780s to discuss policies needed to resolve the budgetary crisis, he faced widespread opposition from lords and office holders. These elites regarded the assemblies as a challenge to their hereditary power over commoners. The monarchy incorporated an administration of seigneurial jurisdictions and venal offices. Lordships and offices upheld inequality on behalf of the nobility and bred the discontent evident in the French Revolution. These findings will alter the way scholars think about the Old Regime society and state and should therefore find a large market among graduate students and professors of European history.

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Sarah Lonsdale

This chapter analyses the success of two women, both of whom recognised the power of social networks as a way of multiplying one’s chances of success. Using two case studies – the teacher, MP and humanitarian activist Leah Manning, and the poet and Jamaican feminist activist Una Marson – this chapter suggests that while social networks can help, they can also constrain when individuals within a network come up against the network’s opposing goals. The chapter examines a number of women’s interwar networks including the National Council of Women and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. It describes Manning’s work as a radical teacher in a Cambridge poor school and her involvement in helping 4,000 Basque child refugees escape from Bilbao during the Spanish Civil War. This chapter also examines Marson’s editorship of The Keys paper, when she increased the number of black female voices in this important interwar publication.

in Rebel women between the wars
Sarah Lonsdale

This chapter argues that while many women who wanted to become journalists during the interwar years had to accept work on women’s magazines or newspapers’ women’s pages, many of them resented their subjugated positions. They also experienced huge stress in having to promote the idea that women belonged to a separate, domestic sphere. They rebelled by hiding ‘in plain sight’ subversively feminist texts in the publications they wrote for. Using the case studies of Naomi Royde-Smith, who was briefly editor of The Queen magazine, and Stella Martin, who wrote for the women’s page of the Bristol Times and Mirror, the relative success of this strategy is assessed. This chapter argues that although this method can be temporarily successful it also carries risks, usually that of dismissal.

in Rebel women between the wars