Here is the front cover of my new book, just published by Pen & Sword. I am pleased to be able to introduce it in this centenary year of the (partial) granting of the vote to women and it has been an absolute pleasure to work on.
It is about the everyday lives of Coventry women throughout one extraordinary century of change and it is full of stories of what it was like to be a woman between 1850 and 1950.
During these years, women broke through barriers so that future generations of women might experience greater freedoms than had ever been possible for their mothers. Others offered their time and exceptional talents for the good of the community.
The main focus of the book is the too often neglected details of women’s daily lives, of triumphs and tragedies, changes and continuities, loves and losses. What was it like to grow up in Coventry, to go to its schools, to work in its offices, shops and factories? What were women’s experiences of getting married, setting up home and raising children? How did women spend their scarce and precious leisure time?
In other words, this is a book about the business of being a woman in this distinctive English Midlands city. I have lived in Coventry since 1980 and I feel honoured to call it home. In writing about women’s lives between 1850 and 1950, I appreciate how much has changed for the better, how much easier many things have become for subsequent generations of women. I also recognise, however, my own experiences in those I have researched. I love the cover photograph (thanks to Albert Smith for this) because it is so timeless – a group of women taking time out of the day to rest, to talk and to laugh. To me, it also shows the support that women give one another over the big and the small stuff – from cradle to grave, with all the important bits in between. I have learned so much from researching such wonderful women and I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Some examples from the book:
- Read about midwife Harriet Ives who, by the time of her retirement after the Second World War, reckoned that she had delivered over 7000 babies in the city
- Learn about Coventry’s suffragettes, including one woman who escaped a jeering and menacing crowd by leaping on a tram and travelling on it until it was safe to get off and go home
- Discover the Medical Officer’s advice to mothers about infant feeding at a time when poor housing and lack of good storage could lead to the contamination of baby milk
The book can be ordered here
I will also have copies at the following events
- Please join me if you can for a chat about the book and some tea and cake at the Big Comfy Bookshop, Fargo Village, Coventry on September 9th from 2.30 onwards.
- A very informal book signing morning at the wonderful Kenilworth Books, 12 Talisman Square, 10.30 am until lunchtime, Saturday September 15th
- A talk about the book, Coventry Society, November 12th. Details to follow
- A talk about women’s lives in the First World War, Coventry History Centre, Saturday 10 November. Details to follow