1st Edition

Women’s Amateur Theatre in Rural Britain, 1919–1945

By Bonnie White Copyright 2024
    248 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Women’s Amateur Theatre in Rural Britain is the first book-length study of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes’ amateur drama groups, which served as an umbrella organisation for women’s amateur drama.

    This work addresses a key historical gap by covering the activities, lives, and labour of women in rural England, Wales, and Scotland. It challenges gender-based assumptions about the value of women’s amateur theatre, highlighting the need for leisure opportunities and social connections in rural villages. The rapid expansion of women’s amateur drama groups is assessed in conjunction with major developments of the period, including the effect of post-1918 reconstruction efforts in rural regions, the revaluation of informal adult education schemes, the law’s influences and restrictions on amateur performances, and the impact of the Second World War on the ability of the Women’s Institutes to carve out a space for all-women’s drama groups that empowered women through education and skill-building programmes to aid in personal and community development.

    The broad scope of this research will appeal to undergraduates, postgraduates, scholars, and non-specialists interested in cultural history and the lives of rural women after the First World War.

    Introduction: Women’s Amateur Drama and the First World War 1. From Village Drama to a National League: The Creation of WI Drama Groups 2. Women’s Dramatic Education and Training 3. Amateur Productions: Festivals, Pageants, and Competition 4. Amateur Performance, Professional Responsibilities, and Performing Rights 5. The Second World War and a New Age for Women’s Amateur Theatre. Conclusion


    Bonnie White is Associate Professor in modern British history at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Grenfell Campus. She is the author of The Society for the Oversea Settlement of British Women (2019) and The Women’s Land Army in First World War Britain (2014).