Gender, Modernity, and the Popular Press in Inter-War Britain

Gender, Modernity, and the Popular Press in Inter-War Britain

Gender, Modernity, and the Popular Press in Inter-War Britain

Gender, Modernity, and the Popular Press in Inter-War Britain

Synopsis

Journalists often claim that they write the first draft of history, but few historians examine the press in detail when preparing later drafts. This book demonstrates the value of popular newspapers as a historical source by using them to explore the attitudes and identites of inter-warBritain, and in particular the reshaping of femininity and masculinity. It provides a fresh insight into a period of great significance in the making of twentieth century gender identities, when women and men were coming to terms with the upheavals of the Great War, the arrival of democracy, andrapid social change. The book also deepens our understanding of the development of the modern media by showing how newspaper editors, in the fierce competition for readers, developed a template for the popular press that is still influential today.

Excerpt

A new chapter of the world's history is beginning. It is for us to write it and
we can write only the thoughts we have within us, draw only the figure
and image of ourselves.

(Daily Mirror, editorial, 12 November 1918)

It is a platitude for journalists to claim that they write the first draft of history. Yet when it comes to preparing later drafts, historians have, in fact, generally been reluctant to examine the press for insights into the past. This book seeks to demonstrate the value of popular newspapers as a historical source by using them to explore the attitudes and identities of inter-war Britain, and in particular the reshaping of femininity and masculinity. The two decades after the Armistice of November 1918 were of major significance in the making of twentieth-century gender identities, as women and men came to terms with the upheavals of the Great War, the arrival of democracy, and rapid social change. These were also the years during which national daily newspapers became part of everyday life, read by a majority of the population. What follows is an analysis of how popular newspapers, in the process of reporting on this post-war world, discussed and debated male and female behaviour and contributed to the evolution of ideas of gender.

Historical and Historiographical Context

The events of the First World War posed a conspicuous challenge to conventional views about male and female roles in society. With men transferring to the front lines in their thousands after August 1914, many women were presented with unprecedented responsibilities and opportunities, and those who moved into previously 'male' spheres in factories and offices on the home front, or joined the newly formed women's military services, received considerable publicity. Their wartime efforts provided an unforgettable testimony to female abilities and powerfully reinforced the arguments of those seeking to improve the position of women. Certain concessions were made before the end of the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.