Caroline Moorehead

Poor Relations

Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat

By

Bloomsbury 403pp £25 order from our bookshop

‘The special virtues of women’, declared the MP and diplomat Harold Nicolson in a speech to the House of Commons in 1943, were intuition and sympathy, qualities that were ‘fatal in diplomacy’. They led, he said, to a disastrous tendency to jump to conclusions and to identify with causes and people, thereby threatening ‘that very balanced attitude which it is the business of the Diplomatic Service to preserve’. Most senior Foreign Office figures agreed: an embassy was no place for a female diplomat. The campaign to get women into the foreign service, already simmering since the 19th century, still had, as Helen McCarthy writes, several years to run. Of all the bastions of male privilege, the Foreign Office turns out to have been one of the hardest to assail.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,
    • 'In different ways Hatherley makes gritty Lódź and poor old which-country-are-we-in-this-week Lviv sound entrancing… ,