Domestic Culture in Woman’s Weekly, 1918-1958

  • Eleanor Reed

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Woman’s Weekly was launched in 1911 as a manual for servantless housewives. In 2018, it remains a stalwart of the British popular women’s magazine market. This thesis, the first ever depth study of Woman’s Weekly, explores the domestic culture produced by the magazine between the end of the First World War in November 1918, and 1958. Broadly, its aims are twofold: to map changes and continuities in Woman’s Weekly’s domestic culture during the period, and to produce a new, literary methodology for surveying periodical form. The latter is based on romance, the genre to which the vast majority of Woman’s Weekly fiction printed during the period belongs, and focuses closely on the magazine’s visual discourses as well as its verbal texts.
    A primary interest of this thesis is social class. The domestic culture constructed by Woman’s Weekly, it argues, is lower middle class; it draws out this distinctive status through strategic comparisons to other magazines, and also to other literary works by contemporary writers. Its aims in doing so are to suggest that popular domestic magazines target highly specific demographics; to broaden existing understandings of lower-middle-class domestic culture; and to challenge critical assumptions that lower-middle-class culture is a cheap, bogus reproduction of leisure-class culture. Six chapters, surveying a sample of magazines from 1918-1919, 1928, 1938-1939, 1940-1945, 1948 and 1958, explore what makes domestic culture in Woman’s Weekly distinctively lower middle class during a period in which British culture and the English class system underwent tremendous and rapid change.
    Date of Award12 Jun 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SponsorsAHRC through the TECHNE consortium
    SupervisorNicki Humble (Supervisor) & Ian Haywood (Supervisor)

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