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'There's always been a women's movement this century?' Assessing Decline, Impact and Social Change 1918-1945

Questions to ponder whilst you read…

  • To what extent did the feminist movement change the lives of working-class women in the first half of the twentieth-century?
  • Did a ‘feminist identity’ still have political purchase among women in the inter-war years?
  • Was feminism still a ‘mass movement’ after 1918?
  • How might historians assess the impact of feminism on social change?

Core Reading

Dale Spender, There’s Always Been a Women’s Movement this Century (1983) [digitised]

Lesley Hall, ‘"Not a domestic utensil but a woman and a citizen": Stella Browne on Women, Health and Society’, Clio Medica: The Wellcome Institute Series in the History of Medicine,1 Aug (2000) 60:1, 275-302

Further Reading

Barbara Caine, English Feminism 1780-1980 (1987) [chapter on the inter-war citizen]

Lesley Hall, Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain Since 1880 (2000)

Joanna Alberti, Beyond Suffrage: Feminists in War and Peace, 1914-1928 (1989)

J. Martin, ‘Beyond Suffrage: Feminism, Education and the Politics of Class in the Inter-War Years’, British Journal of Sociology of Education 29:4 (2008), 411-23


‘Six Point Group. Extension of the franchise to women in the colonies’ (1939) from the Women in the National Archives original documents database. [Access via Warwick Library: Databases – History]

‘The Bastardy Bill’ (1920) MRC MSS.243.56 [available digitally at]

Workers’ Birth Control Group, ‘To Our Men Comrades’ (1928) MRC MSS.292/824/1 [available digitally at]

Virginia Woolf, ‘A Room of One’s Own’, in Three Guineas (1926)

Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night [a detective novel]

Party Political Pamphlets aimed at Women Voters [Digitised MRC document]

‘Report of a Conference of the Abortion Law Reform Association’ (1936) [Digitised MRC document]