‘In another fifty years’ time when social historians are writing deep books on the early twentieth century’, commented Woman in its first edition in 1937, ‘earnest hours will be spent in reconstructing the Woman of the Period. We ought to be able to tell them, since we are the living creature which they … will be trying to reconstruct.’ Even allowing for the hyperbole of an ambitious and optimistic editor, the writer had a point. Popular women’s magazines constitute an important but rather neglected source for the ordinary British woman of the inter-war period, for both the campaigns of the feminists and the strategies of the politicians designed to confine women to domesticity have to be seen in the context of the much more pervasive social and commercial pressures that enveloped the mass of women in their daily lives. Whether they reflected women’s ideas and behaviour or actively influenced them, they were too universal to be ignored.
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