It wasn’t just angry young men who changed Britain. What about the women?
In Rebel Writers, Celia Brayfield takes a long, hard look at seven ‘accidental feminists’: Shelagh Delaney (A Taste of Honey), Edna O’Brien (The Country Girls), Lynne Reid-Banks (The L-Shaped Room), Charlotte Bingham (Coronet Among the Weeds), Nell Dunn (Up the Junction), Virginia Ironside (Chelsea Bird) and Margaret Forster (Georgy Girl).
Brayfield maintains that these women completely changed the way female writers were supposed to be.
‘Actually, they changed the way women were supposed to be, too, simply because they told the truth about what it was like being female in the 1950s or early 1960s – pretty tough,’ she says.
‘No power, no money, no control over your life, or even over your own body. And everything changed for us because of feminism, but before second-wave feminism these writers were getting death threats and accusations of satanic possession, just because they spoke up. These writers were my inspiration and I wrote this book to say thank you, to pay it forward.’
Celia Brayfield, who lives locally, is an author and cultural commentator. Her nine novels range from modern social fiction in Wild Weekend (Warner, 2004) millennial comedy in Heartswap (Little, Brown, 2000) to international bestsellers.
Her subjects are mostly women, working through changes in themselves and the world, and other themes are the psychogeography of London suburbs, media overshadow and British ex-pats abroad.
She has also written five non-fiction books, making her debut with a study of celebrity culture, Glitter (Chatto & Windus, 1984) and following with a classic writing guide, Bestseller (Four Estate 1996), and a memoir of a year lived in France, Deep France (Macmillan, 2004).
Celia teaches Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, where she specialises in historical fiction. Her first career was as a journalist, working mostly for The Times and the Evening Standard.
As well as talking about Rebel Writers at BridLit on Wednesday 6 November in the Bull Ballroom at 4pm, she’ll also be hosting a masterclass in life writing on Thursday 7 November in the Literary and Scientific Institute at 6pm.