By the 1960s the women’s movement had reached a critical stage in the cycle that affects all radical causes. This, of course, is not to suggest that the movement had disappeared during the 1950s. Activists including Marjory Corbett Ashby, Dora Russell and Rebecca West provided a living link with the campaigns of the early part of the century, while organisations such as the Fawcett Society and the Women’s Freedom League (WFL) maintained direct continuity with the equal rights tradition stretching back to the late-Victorian period. However, the winding up of the WFL in 1961 symbolised the gradual decline of the earlier generation of feminists. When Dale Spender researched the lives of women active in previous decades she began with the assumption characteristic of younger feminists that the movement had virtually died out at some stage since the inter-war period, and was corrected by her respondents.1 The realisation that the movement enjoyed a longer history than they had supposed was a great stimulus for 1970s feminists, but the very fact that they had to rediscover it speaks volumes for the dwindling impact of the cause on the consciousness of the post-war generation.
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