This is a book-length study of cohabitation in nineteenth-century England, based on research into the lives of hundreds of couples. ‘Common-law’ marriages did not have any legal basis, so the Victorian courts had to wrestle with unions that resembled marriage in every way, yet did not meet its most basic requirements. The majority of those who lived in irregular unions did so because they could not marry legally. Others, though, chose not to marry, from indifference, from class differences, or because they dissented from marriage for philosophical reasons. This book looks at each motivation in turn, highlighting class, gender and generational differences, as well as the reactions of wider kin and community. It shows how these couples slowly widened the definition of legal marriage, preparing the way for the more substantial changes of the twentieth century.
This book explores the contribution that five conservative, voluntary and popular women’s organisations made to women’s lives and to the campaign for women’s rights throughout the period 1928 to 1964. The five groups included in this study are: the Mothers’ Union, the Catholic Women’s League, the National Council of Women, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes and the National Union of Townswomen’s Guilds. The book challenges existing histories of the women’s movement that suggest the movement went into decline during the inter-war period only to be revived by the emergence of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 1960s. It is argued that the term women’s movement must be revised to allow a broader understanding of female agency encompassing feminist, political, religious and conservative women’s groups who campaigned to improve the status of women throughout the twentieth century. This book provides an analysis of the way in which these five voluntary women’s organisations adopted the concept of democratic citizenship, with its rights and duties, to legitimate their demands for reform. Their involvement in a number of campaigns relating to social, welfare and economic rights is explored and assessed. The book provides a radical re-assessment of this period of women’s history and in doing so makes a significant contribution to on-going debates about the shape and the impact of the women’s movement in twentieth century Britain. The book is essential reading for those interested in modern British history and the history of the women’s movement.
Along with the suffrage campaign, women's liberation activism is one of the most renowned aspects of women's political history. The women's liberation movement (WLM) has often been linked with the 'big city'. This is the first book-length account of the women's liberation movement in Scotland, which charts the origins and development of this important social movement of the post-1945 period. In doing so, it reveals the inventiveness and fearlessness of feminist activism, while also pointing towards the importance of considering the movement from the local and grassroots perspectives. This book has two central arguments. First, it presses for a more representative historiography in which material from other places outside of the large women's liberation centres are included. Second, it highlights that case studies not only enrich our knowledge about women's liberation but they also challenge the way the British movement has been portrayed by both participants and historians. The book commences with contextualising the subject and summarising recent research into the movement in the United Kingdom. It looks at the roots of the movement by offering portrayals of the women who went on to form women's liberation groups in Scotland. The book then analyses the phenomenon of 'consciousness-raising' (CR) and the part it had to play in the WLM's development. The focus then moves to exploring where, when and why women's liberation groups emerged. The campaigns taken up by the WLM were to defend abortion rights and campaign against violence against women.
This book explores the pervasive influence of pacifism on Victorian feminism. It provides an account of Victorian women who campaigned for peace, and of the many feminists who incorporated pacifist ideas into their writing on women and gender. The book explores feminists' ideas about the role of women within the empire, their eligibility for citizenship, and their ability to act as moral guardians in public life. It shows that such ideas made use – in varying ways – of gendered understandings of the role of force and the relevance of arbitration and other pacifist strategies. The book examines the work of a wide range of individuals and organisations, from well-known feminists such as Lydia Becker, Josephine Butler and Millicent Garrett Fawcett to lesser-known figures such as the Quaker pacifists Ellen Robinson and Priscilla Peckover.
This book studies a distinctive brand of women's rights that emerged out of the Victorian Secularist movement, and looks at the lives and work of a number of female activists, whose renunciation of religion shaped their struggle for emancipation. Anti-religious or secular ideas were fundamental to the development of feminist thought, but have, until now, been almost entirely passed over in the historiography of the Victorian and Edwardian women's movement. In uncovering an important tradition of freethinking feminism, the book reveals an ongoing radical and free love current connecting Owenite feminism with the more ‘respectable’ post-1850 women's movement and the ‘New Women’ of the early twentieth century.
A response to the prominent Methodist historian David Hempton's call to analyse women's experience within Methodism, this book deals with British Methodist women preachers over the entire nineteenth century, with special emphasis on the Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians. The book covers women preachers in Wesley's lifetime, the reason why some Methodist sects allowed women to preach and others did not, and the experience of Bible Christian and Primitive Methodist female evangelists before 1850. It also describes the many other ways in which women supported their chapel communities. The second half of the book includes the careers of mid-century women revivalists, the opportunities, home and foreign missions offered for female evangelism, the emergence of deaconess evangelists and Sisters of the People in late century, and the brief revival of female itinerancy among the Bible Christians.
Women before the court: Law and patriarchy in the Anglo-American World, 1600–1800 is a ground-breaking study of women in Britain and British America. Drawing from archival sources from both sides of the Atlantic, it offers an innovative, comparative approach to the study of women’s legal rights during a formative period of Anglo-American law. It traces how colonists transplanted English legal institutions to America, examines the remarkable depth of women’s legal knowledge, and shows how the law increasingly undermined patriarchal relationships between parents and children, masters and servants, and husbands and wives. While in the seventeenth century these relationships had been defined by mutual obligations of authority and submission, the economic and legal developments of the eighteenth century gave women increasing opportunities to break the patriarchal mould. This book will be of interest to scholars of Britain and colonial America, students of legal history and to laypeople interested in how women navigated and negotiated the structures of authority that governed them in the past. It is packed with fascinating (and sometimes shocking) stories that women related to the courts in cases ranging from murder and abuse to debt and estate litigation. This study adds a valuable contribution to our understandings of law, power and gender in the early modern world.
This original and fresh approach to the emotions of adolescence focuses on the leisure lives of working-class boys and young men in the inter-war years. Being Boys challenges many stereotypes about their behaviour. It offers new perspectives on familiar and important themes in interwar social and cultural history, ranging from the cinema and mass consumption to boys' clubs, personal advice pages, street cultures, dancing, sexuality, mobility and the body. It draws on many autobiographies and personal accounts and is particularly distinctive in offering an unusual insight into working-class adolescence through the teenage diaries of the author's father, which are interwoven with the book's broader analysis of contemporary leisure developments. Being Boys will be of interest to scholars and students across the humanities and social sciences and is also relevant to those teaching and studying in the fields of child development, education, and youth and community studies.
Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (1833–1918) was one of the most significant pioneers of the British women's emancipation movement, though her importance is little recognised. Wolstenholme Elmy referred to herself as an ‘initiator’ of movements, and she was at the heart of every campaign Victorian feminists conducted — her most well-known position being that of secretary of the Married Women's Property Committee from 1867–82. A fierce advocate of human rights, as the secretary of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights, Wolstenholme Elmy earned the nickname of the ‘parliamentary watch-dog’ from Members of Parliament anxious to escape her persistent lobbying. Also a feminist theorist, she believed wholeheartedly in the rights of women to freedom of their person, and was the first woman ever to speak from a British stage on the sensitive topic of conjugal rape. Wolstenholme Elmy engaged theoretically with the rights of the disenfranchised to exert force in pursuit of the vote, and Emmeline Pankhurst lauded her as ‘first’ among the infamous suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union. As a lifelong pacifist, however, she resigned from the WSPU Executive in the wake of increasingly violent activity from 1912. A prolific correspondent, journalist, speaker and political critic, Wolstenholme Elmy left significant resources, believing they ‘might be of value’ to historians. This book draws on a great deal of this documentation to produce a portrait that does justice to her achievements as a lifelong ‘Insurgent woman’.
This text provides the first full-length consideration of women’s economic roles in early modern Scottish towns. Drawing on tens of thousands of cases entered into burgh court litigation between 1560 and 1640 in Edinburgh, Dundee, Haddington, and Linlithgow, Women, credit, and debt explores how Scottish women navigated their courts and their communities. This includes a consideration of the lifecycle stage of these women, and whether those active in litigation were wives, widows, or singlewomen. The employments and by-employments that brought these women to court, and the roles these women had in the economy, are also considered. In particular, this book explores the roles of women as merchants and merchandisers, producers and sellers of ale, landladies, moneylenders, and servants. Comparing the Scottish experience to that of England and Europe, Spence shows that through the latter half of the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth century women were conspicuously active in burgh court litigation and, by extension, were active and engaged participants in the early modern Scottish economy. This book reevaluates what we thought we knew about women in the early modern period. As such, it will be of particular interest to those studying and teaching Scottish social and economic history and valuable to anyone studying the history of work and gender. It will also appeal to all feminists who have an interest in how women negotiate economic roles.