Dr Cathy Clay (English, Nottingham Trent) ‘Rereading the Time and Tide Archive: The Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine’

Thursday 25th January (wk 3), 5-6pm

Edith Morley G10

All welcome 

Time and Tide, the feminist weekly review founded in 1920 by Welsh businesswoman and suffragette Lady Margaret Rhondda, is one of the richest archives for exploring British feminism and women’s writing in the interwar years. During its first decade the periodical was a vocal participant in post-war feminist debates, and regularly carried articles on issues relating to women. It also published poems, stories and other features by leading women writers of the period, from middlebrow authors such as E. M. Delafield to Britain’s best-known female modernist Virginia Woolf. The periodical’s gradual rebranding, however, as a more general-audience, less woman-focused magazine, has been read as an abandonment of its feminism. According to David Doughan and Denise Sanchez, ‘in the 1930s [Time and Tide’s] feminism gradually faded away’ (1987: 45), with the periodical becoming ‘a highly respected political/cultural/literary weekly […] at the cost of divesting itself of any specific feminist commitment’ (Doughan 1987: 268-71).

This paper offers a rereading of Time and Tide that necessitates a more nuanced understanding of its relationship to feminism and to the wider political and cultural landscape of interwar Britain. Based on extensive new archival research conducted for my forthcoming book Time and Tide: the Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine (EUP, 2018), I argue that far from abandoning its feminist commitment Time and Tide extended beyond a narrow definition of feminism as it worked to secure women’s position at the heart of public and political life: a goal entirely consistent with an equalitarian feminist tradition. Through an analysis of Time and Tide’s internal and external marketing strategies, its uses of design and illustration, and strategic staging of voices in its correspondence columns, I show that despite surface appearances feminism remained a central motivating and shaping force on Time and Tide’s editorial policy and content. Establishing itself as the only female-controlled intellectual weekly in the ‘golden age’ of the weekly review, Time and Tide remains a beacon of feminist achievement throughout the interwar years and beyond.

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