Anne Sebba

Housewives & Heroines

Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties


Virago 324pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

What a brilliant idea this book is. By writing essays about the (often deeply unlikely) careers of ten extraordinary women in Britain in the Fifties, Rachel Cooke throws new light on a whole society. In fact, she blasts a high-beam spotlight onto a repressive, secretive yet in some ways forgiving culture where, as long as the Kenwood Chefs kept whirring, nobody explored too far beneath the shiny Formica worktop surface. 

Although a Fifties Ercol table was, Cooke insists, the catalyst for this engrossing book, it is much more than a history of objects. It’s important to remember that a British woman in the Fifties could not take out a mortgage in her own name and

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