Throughout history, records of women's lives and work have been lost through the pervasive assumption of male dominance. Wives, especially, disappear as supporters of their husbands’ work, as unpaid and often unacknowledged secretaries and research assistants, and as managers of men’s domestic domains; even intellectual collaboration tends to be portrayed as normative wifely behaviour rather than as joint work.
Forgotten Wives examines the ways in which the institution and status of marriage has contributed to the active ‘disremembering’ of women’s achievements. Drawing on archives, biographies, autobiographies and historical accounts, best-selling author and academic Ann Oakley interrogates conventions of history and biography-writing using the case studies of four women married to well-known men – Charlotte Shaw, Mary Booth, Jeannette Tawney and Janet Beveridge.
Asking critical questions about the mechanisms that maintain gender inequality, despite thriving feminist and other equal rights movements, she contributes a fresh vision of how the welfare state developed in the early 20th century.
“An important paradigm in considering what being a wife means, and her four case studies illustrate it brilliantly.” Times Higher Education
“In this stimulating volume, Oakley throws fresh light on social analysis in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and, especially, on the previously under-acknowledged role of her female subjects.” John Stewart, Glasgow Caledonian University
“A timely reminder that we gain much in our contemporary analysis of gender, policy and welfare from historical reflections. Oakley brings dynamism to stories of women through her depth of research, drawing upon archives, biographies, autobiographies and historical accounts.” Linda McKie, University of Edinburgh
“A sharp surveyor of the human condition, Ann Oakley now casts her feminist eye on those invisible women whose intellectual input has gone unsung. Utterly brilliant!” Helena Kennedy QC
“Oakley’s deft scholarship and lucid prose reveal so much about the systematic phenomenon of forgetting/marginalising wives, and the notion of collaborative knowing and writing– a fascinating read.” Jane Elliott, University of Exeter
1 The condition of wifehood
2 Mary Booth
3 Charlotte Shaw
4 Jeannette Tawney
5 Janet Beveridge
6 A life of her own