In 1928 George Bernard Shaw’s sister-in-law modestly asked him for ‘a few ideas on socialism’. History does not relate how pleased she was with Shaw’s immodest response, the 200,000-word Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. And that, as it happens, is John Vincent’s principal argument in a nutshell, for he believes that history depends on written evidence and that without evidence there can be no history. By not registering her feelings on paper, Shaw’s sister-in-law failed, on this point, to contribute to history.
She is not alone. In fact, Vincent says, almost no women have made any contribution to history at all, because they have failed to create any evidence. This, he allows, may be because ‘they had better things to do than live their lives on paper’. It could be that they