Catherine Clay's persuasively argued and rigorously documented study examines women's friendships during the period between the two world wars. Building on extensive new archival research, the book's organizing principle is a series of literary-historical case-studies that explore the practices, meanings and effects of friendship within a network of British women writers, who were all loosely connected to the feminist weekly periodical Time and Tide. Clay considers the letters and diaries, as well as fiction, poetry, autobiographies and journalistic writings, of authors such as Vera Brittain, Winifred Holtby, Storm Jameson, Naomi Mitchison, and Stella Benson, to examine women's friendships in relation to two key contexts: the rise of the professional woman writer under the shadow of literary modernism and historic shifts in the cultural recognition of lesbianism crystallized by The Well of Loneliness trial in 1928. While Clay's study presents substantial evidence to support the crucial role close and enduring friendships played in women's professional achievements, it also boldly addresses the limitations and denials of these relationships. Producing 'biographies of friendship' untold in existing author studies, her book also challenges dominant accounts of women's friendships and advances new ways for thinking about women's friendship in contemporary debates.
'… very accomplished study… Grounded in solid archival research and delving into a wealth of previously unpublished letters and diaries, it offers valuable insights… fluent and information-packed volume…' Women: a cultural review 'British Women Writers 1914-1945 presents a dynamic portrait […] through impressive research and insightful arguments.' Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature ’Catherine Clay's book adds to this body of work, offering valuable insight into the general conditions of literary production and the importance of the creation of a literary community in forming and sustaining a literary career between 1914 and 1945… [Clay] conveys much of the character, complexity, and meaning of the women and the period in which they lived. The value of work such as this lies not only in providing the reader and researcher with additional insights into the working lives of these particular writers in a particular place and time, but perhaps also in the inspiration it provides to those of us concerned with more contemporary critical studies in this sphere.’ SHARP
Contents: Introduction: biographies of friendship; Women's friendship in inter-war Britain; Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: a 'trade in work and desire'; Winifred Holtby and Lady Rhondda: a romance of business; Vera Brittain and Storm Jameson: 'a passionate beckoning'; Stella Benson and Laura Hutton: representing the lesbian body; Stella Benson, Naomi Mitchison and Winifred Holtby: a triadic model of friendship and desire; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.