Single Mothers and Urban Families: Grassroot Feminist Novels of Sixties England

Speaker: Dr Celia Brayfield, Bath Spa University

This paper considers the role of young women writers of the Sixties in building the foundations of second wave feminism, specifically in their portrayal of the “umarried mother,” a social pariah at the time.  Five key works: A Taste of Honey (1958) by Shelagh Delaney; The L-Shaped Room (1960) by Lynn Reid Banks; Georgy Girl (1963) by Margaret Forster; The Millstone (1965) by Margaret Drabble and Up The Junction (1965) by Nell Dunn presented singgle motherhood as a positive choice, a passionate expression of maternal love and a conscious rejection of the traditional family. The resonance that these works achieved demonstrates that these writers were key figures in developing the social discourse in which ideals of parenthood were redefined, and thus far more influential than their more famous contemporaries, the Angry Young Men.

Thursday 6th July, 11.00