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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A quote a day for Women's History Month: 22nd March

It was a pleasant side of Mrs Tebben's character that although her own books were described, by those who read them, as important, she was entirely modest about what she had done and never dreamt of demanding elbow-room or solitude for herself, although she accepted their necessity for her husband.
I do tend to find Thirkell both compulsively readable and in many ways exasperating. She creates female characters of considerable awesomeness and outstanding competence (alongside maddeningly vague, but, we are given to believe, utterly charming, ditzes) but on the position of women seems to be right there with Mrs Garth in Middlemarch in insisting upon female subordination, the greater significance of the man's career and interests, etc. Also, in the wartime and postwar volumes of her Barsetshire Chronicles, there is altogether too much about how Nice People Like Her Characters are being ground under the iron heel of socialism and the rising tide of uppity lower orders.

However, this vignette of a serious scholarly economist (whose works appear to be approved of even by misogynistic old dons) writing her books very much in a manner like unto that for which Jane Austen is reputed does, I think, at least suggest a recognition of some of the difficulties women doing other things than the domestic laboured under (though as I recall Mrs Tebben does get badly marked  down for domestic incompetence).

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