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Women, Sport and Modernity in Interwar Britain


Fiona Skillen

This book offers a unique examination of women’s increasing involvement in sport during the period 1919-1939. Focusing primarily on sites of participation, it analyses where and how women accessed sport and their participation across class, age and marital groups. It also demonstrates the diverse ways in which sport was incorporated into women’s everyday lives, with particular emphasis on the important and yet often neglected area of informal participation, so fundamental to understandings of women’s sport. The unique combination of in-depth studies, drawing on the voices of the women themselves through oral testimonies, and the tracing of broad national and international trends, contributes to an innovative and comprehensive exploration of the evolution of women’s sports participation across Britain during this significant period.


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Acknowledgements vii List of tables ix List of figures xi List of illustrations xiii Acronyms and abbreviations xv Introduction 1 Chapter 1 ‘A sound system of physical training’: The development of girls’ sports education in interwar Britain 17 Chapter 2 ‘We all wanted to win, but we were nice to each other’: The growth of organized sport 53 Chapter 3 ‘To make them men or women of character and worthy citizens of our great Empire’: Public provision of sports facilities 101 vi Chapter 4 ‘Brightening the lives and making less monotonous the daily toil of the workers’: Work and sport 145 Chapter 5 ‘Women and sport: a change in taste’: Sportswomen and modernity 181 Conclusion 229 Appendix Oral history interviews 237 Bibliography 243 Index 261

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