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Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties

Rachel Cooke

4 Reviews

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Prose: non-fiction, History

A witty and touching account of ten inspirational figures that makes us reconsider conventional ideas of the fifties woman.

In her apron and rubber gloves, a smile lipsticked permanently across her face, the woman of the Fifties has become a cultural symbol of all that we are most grateful to have sloughed off. A homely compliant creature, she knows little or nothing of sex, and stands no chance at all of having a career. She must marry or die.

But what if there was another side to the story?

In this book Rachel Cooke tells the story of ten extraordinary women whose pioneering professional lives - and complicated private lives - paved the way for future generations. Muriel Box, film director. Betty Box, film producer. Margery Fish, plantswoman. Patience Gray, cook. Alison Smithson, architect. Sheila van Damm, rally car driver and theatre owner. Nancy Spain, journalist and radio personality. Joan Werner Laurie, editor. Jacquetta Hawkes, archaeologist. Rose Heilbron, QC.

Plucky and ambitious, they left the house, discovered the bliss of work, and ushered in the era of the working woman.

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Praise for Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties

  • A gallery of vividly drawn portaits - witty, poignant, inspiriting - that opens up a new front in our understanding of the "lost" Fifties - David Kynaston, author of Modernity Britain

  • Rachel Cooke shines a new light in an elegantly original way into the 1950s and especially into the role of women therein. By cleverly focussing on the lives of several extraordinary women, she manages to produce a social history which is highly absorbing and richly informative. A very enjoyable and distinctive book - Kate Atkinson

  • There is warmth and lightness of spirit to this book: it is witty, intelligent, kind and poignant. Cooke exudes love and knowledge of people, gardens, food, art . . . she leaves you wanting more - The Times

  • Vastly entertaining, cannily researched and sharply perceptive - Telegraph

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Rachel Cooke

Rachel Cooke was born in Sheffield. And award-winning journalist, she writes for The Observer, and is the television critic of the New Statesman.

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