What Can the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s Teach Us Today? Sheila Rowbotham
Sheila Rowbotham looks back at her life as a participant in the women’s liberation movement, left politics and the creative radical culture of a decade in which freedom and equality seemed possible.
After addressing the first British Women’s Liberation Conference at Ruskin College, Oxford in 1970, Rowbotham went on to encourage night cleaners to unionise, to campaign for nurseries and abortion rights. She played an influential role in discussions of socialist feminist ideas and her books and journalism attracted an international readership. She reveals the tremendous efforts that were made to transform attitudes and feelings, as well as daily life, and reflects on the shifts that occurred in politics and society.
Rowbotham discusses grassroots networks, communal houses and squats, the shared impetus to organise collectively and how to love without jealousy or domination with Helen Taylor.
Sheila Rowbothams’s Daring to Hope: My Life in the 1970s is published by Verso. Buy a copy from our partners Waterstones online or at the event.
Sheila Rowbotham, who helped start the women’s liberation movement in Britain, is known internationally as an historian of feminism and radical social movements. She is the author of the ground-breaking books Women, Resistance and Revolution; Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World; and Hidden from History. Her later works include Promise of a Dream: Remembering the Sixties; Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century; and the biography Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love, shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize and winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Biography. Her poetry and two plays have been published and she has written for newspapers and journals in Britain, the US, Italy, Brazil, Turkey, Sweden and Sri Lanka.
Image Credit: Marcus Ahmad
Helen Taylor is Emeritus Professor of English, The University of Exeter, UK. She is an Honorary Fellow of the British Association of American Studies and Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow. She has taught English and American literature at the Universities of Bristol, West of England, Warwick and Exeter, where she was Head of the School of English. She has published and lectured widely on the literature and culture of the American South, as well as women’s writing. Her books include Scarlett’s Women: Gone with the Wind and its Female Fans (1989, repr. 2014), Circling Dixie: Contemporary Southern Culture through a Transatlantic Lens (2001), The Daphne du Maurier Companion (2007), and Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives (2019). Curator, Chair and participant in many literature festivals, she was the first Director of the Liverpool Literary Festival, 2016 and 2018.
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