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Friday, 4 March 2011

A quote a day for Women's History Month: 4th March

It is agreeable to distemper ones' own nursery, bake crusts, squeeze oranges and mix nourishing salads; it is not agreeable to sit on quarrelling committees, listen to tedious speeches, organise demonstrations and alter systems, in order that others -- for whom such wholesome pleasures are at present impossible -- may enjoy them. Yet women are praised for the maternal instinct which makes the care expended on their own children natural and pleasant; they are criticised for the political activities which result in the safeguarding of other people's children as well as their own. Winifred Holtby, Women and a Changing Civilisation (1932)
Winifred Holtby (1898-1935), another on the list of interwar middlebrow women novelists and a friend of Stella Browne, alas taken from the world so very soon. An extraordinarily full life of writing and assorted activism, etc. Currently, her greatest novel, South Riding, is being horribly travestied in a dreadful TV adaptation - 3 hour-long episodes for a long novel full of intertwining characters and plots just does not work, and is reductionist. If you can, get hold of the DVDs of the glorious 13-episode 1974 Yorkshire TV version (Dorothy Tutin as Sarah,  Nigel Davenport as Carne, Hermione Baddeley as Alderman Beddows).  But while the 1938 movie version has some renowned names from the ranks of British thespians, the plot summary has always deterred me from seeking this out. Holtby was writing against romance conventions, not with them. Even if Sarah Burton is one of the few true legitimate descendants of Jane Eyre.

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