I have fallen sadly behind in writing up my reading of recent months, but hope to repair this omission. Starting at perhaps the wrong end, i.e. the most recent book bearing on my general research interests read.
It is a very good read: I was reading it in the interstices and the aftermath of a fairly intense conference but still found it compellingly engaging.
The various cases dealt with are the Maud Allan 'Cult of the Clitoris' libel suit against the sleazoid journalist Pemberton Billing; the flurry of concern, focusing around the drug-related, or allegedly drug-related, deaths of two young women, the actress Billie Carleton and the dancer Freda Kempton, over 'white women' associating with 'Chinamen' as well as narcotic use by women; the well known trial of Edith Thompson and Freddie Bywaters for the murder of her husband; the shooting of her Egyptian husband by Madame Fahmy; and the extraordinary convolutions of the Russell divorce case. Several of these have been the subject of rather sensationalist popular accounts, but Bland provides a deeper analysis of the responses to these cases across a range of voices, and the resonances with wider social concerns of the time, in particular the changing roles of women, the allure and the threat of modern life, and the continuing impact of the Great War upon British masculinity.