It’s an unusual work, utterly unlike anything else appearing at the moment under the heading “feminism”, and for that reason it is important. That it works so well is a tribute to Rowbotham’s intimate acquaintance with many of the period’s leading characters and to the themes she uses to group her material – from campaigns for birth control, to the reorganisation of the family, home and work, to experiments in consumer power.
And the Morning Star’s review says ” the book should still inspire a new generation of dreamers.”
For the Independent, Sheila selects William Morris: Romantic To Revolutionary, By EP Thompson as her Book Of A Lifetime:
Thompson, who delighted in quotes, takes several hundred pages to situate Morris in the Romantic and aesthetic rejection of capitalism: ‘We have profoundly forgotten everywhere that cash-payment is not the sole relation of human beings’ (Thomas Carlyle). ‘There is no Wealth but Life’ (John Ruskin). The sharpness of those critics of capitalism, who could recall other ways of organising work and shaping human relations, is startling. Their moral and aesthetic revolt against the factory system and its values rang in my ears when I came to read Marx…Thompson’s Morris engages with a conundrum even more relevant today. How might we shift from capitalist society as it is to a sustainable and pleasurable ‘something else’? His book reveals a dynamic yet embedded way of writing the history of socialism, and an interrogation of what socialism might be.
ARE YOU READING NOW?The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan. It enables you to think about two kinds of crossings: one where people move from one culture to another, but also the incomprehension that can often exist between generations.…WOULD YOU TAKE TO A DESERT ISLAND?I’d take Byron’s collected poems, as I find him very interesting. He was writing was during the emergence of industrial capitalism, just before the new industrial world.…FIRST GAVE YOU THE READING BUG?WhenI was a little girl I read a well-known Edwardian children’s history book called Our Island Story by Henrietta Marshall. It was a history in pictures. There was one, for example, of Queen Elizabeth dancing, showing that she was rather vain — she was pretending not to know that all these foreign courtiers were watching her.…LEFT YOU COLD?Hitler’s Mein Kampf, of course. It was my father’s and I read it when I was in my teens. It was so horrible I decided I was going to censor it and not read it again
- Friday 21st May, 6-7.30pm
Bristol Festival of Ideas: ‘Feminism Now’ with Kat Banyard at Watershed Media Centre, Bristol
For more details and to book / 0117 927 5100
- Tuesday 8 June, 7.30pm
The Bishopsgate Institute
For more details and to book / 020 7392 9220
- Thursday 10 June, 6.30pm
Free but please call 020 7637 1848 or email to reserve
- Monday 21 June, 6.30 – 8pm
For more details and to book