In London in 1958, a play by a 19-year-old redefined women's writing in Britain. It also began a movement that would change women's lives forever. The play was A Taste of Honey and the author, Shelagh Delaney, was the first in a succession of young women who wrote about their lives with an honesty that dazzled the world. They rebelled against sexism, inequality and prejudice and in doing so challenged the existing definitions of what writing and writers should be. Bypassing the London cultural elite, their work reached audiences of millions around the world, paved the way for profound social changes and laid the foundations of second-wave feminism.
After Delaney came Edna O'Brien, Lynne Reid-Banks, Charlotte Bingham, Nell Dunn, Virginia Ironside and Margaret Forster; an extraordinarily disparate group who were united in their determination to shake the traditional concepts of womanhood in novels, films, television, essays and journalism. They were as angry as the Angry Young Men, but were also more constructive and proposed new ways to live and love in the future. They did not intend to become a literary movement but they did, inspiring other writers to follow. Not since the Brontës have a group of young women been so determined to tell the truth about what it is like to be a girl.
In this biographical study, the acclaimed author, Celia Brayfield, tells their story for the first time.
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About the Author
She teaches Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her first career was as a journalist, working mostly for The Times and the Evening Standard. Born in North London, she was educated at St Paul's Girls' School and briefly studied French language and literature at Grenoble University. She has one daughter and lives in Dorset.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Seven Writers 17
1 Innocence and Experience 19
2 A Man's World: Sexism 54
3 Forbidden Kisses: Class 70
4 All False: Love 80
5 'I Wish I Had a Career': Aspiration 87
6 The Great Unmentionable: Sex 94
7 Drowning in Delight: Motherhood 104
8 A Rotten Bargain: Marriage 118
9 Good Old John: Race 127
10 Before the Urban Family: Friendship 137
Part 2 Out into the World 149
11 'Where is your Baby?' 151
12 Losing It at the Movies: Screen Adaptation 162
13 A Stain Upon Womanhood 178
14 The Angry Young Men: The Literary Movement That Never Was 188
15 Backwards in High Heels: Success And After 202
16 We Were Pioneers 238