[Marxism] SHEILA ROWBOTHAM - DREAMERS OF A NEW DAY - (new in paperback + events - Verso)

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Tue Aug 2 05:18:50 MDT 2011






“Exhilarating … admirably lucid … Reading about the wild hopes of these early 20th-century pioneers, you cannot fail to be moved by the sheer exuberance of their imaginations.” GUARDIAN



September 10, 2011
The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University, 25 Old Castle Street, London, E1 7NT
Sheila Rowbotham, author of DREAMERS OF A NEW DAY will take part in the Women's History Network Conference 2011 'Looking Back—Looking Forward'.
For more information and to book:

Sheila Rowbotham will also be speaking at the Ilkley Literature Festival on 1 October 2011 and  Richmond Literature Festival on 19 November 2011

More information and booking details will be posted here when available:


>From the author of the acclaimed Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and finalist for the Lambda Literary Award), comes DREAMERS OF A NEW DAY – a lively, groundbreaking study in women’s history that diversifies our understanding of the early women’s movement.

Sheila Rowbotham chronicles a profound social awakening among women that took place from the 1880s to the 1920s, tracing how a capacity for optimistic imagining extended the possibilities of modernity. Drawing on a wealth of original research, DREAMERS OF A NEW DAY explores how, struggling to define themselves as individuals, women overturned customs and prejudice, everyday life and culture by transforming the conditions of their own lives and those of others.

Focusing on female pioneers in Britain and North America – and crossing political boundaries to include anarchists and liberals, feminists and non-feminists, reformers and radicals, coming from diverse social backgrounds – Rowbotham brings to life three generations of women who challenged women’s subordination and questioned how human experience was conceived.

Rowbotham’s dreamers and adventurers are set against an elegantly rendered historical backdrop, amid the daunting problems of globalised trade and investment, the beginnings of mass production, changes in communication, immigration, poverty and urban slums that dominated the period. Feeling a moral compulsion to intervene in the rapid pace of change, they acted upon that belief, and in doing so created new spaces for themselves beyond the struggle for the vote: the suffrage movement not only inspired resistance against other forms of injustice and inequality on a broader social and economic level, it positioned women into a new role in the public sphere.

External demands for change were apt to boomerang back into the personal realm, breaching the boundaries between the personal and political, private and public and disturbing cultural assumptions about behaviour and relationships. Illuminating how women challenged existing conceptions of sexuality, citizenship, family and the economy – through taking off corsets, forming free unions, living communally, buying ethically, and joining trade unions – Rowbotham shows how women paved the way for much of the liberations of modern life, and how the ‘dreamers’ raised questions that remain at the forefront of our twenty-first-century lives.



“Rowbotham has a marvellous gift for explication and an eye for the illuminating quotation ... readers of this ambitious and eloquent book will agree with Rowbotham’s tough-minded conclusion: that in women’s ongoing effort to reconcile the personal and the political, 'there is no automatic accretion of improvement,' but the need to reinvent utopia in every era.”  Elaine Showalter, DAILY TELEGRAPH

“As the 21st century falters forward with faith wars and economic collapse, women need to be at the forefront of reimagining our world. This book is a timely reminder that we have been here before.”  Jeanette Winterson, TIMES

“A compelling study of the adventurous visionaries who challenged sex and gender assumptions from the 1880s up to the first world war… A powerful reminder of how much we owe to their courage and imagination.”  Dinah Birch, OBSERVER

“DREAMERS OF A NEW DAY is crowded, lively and inspiring ... Rowbotham’s book is a tribute to women’s faith in the possible but also to her own unquenchable belief in women.” Alison Light, INDEPENDENT

“DREAMERS OF A NEW DAY is short but vast in scope ... [it’s] an unusual work, utterly unlike anything else appearing at the moment under the heading “feminism”, and for that reason it is important.”
– Melissa Benn, NEW STATESMAN


SHEILA ROWBOTHAM is a Simon Professor at the University of Manchester. Her many books include the James Tait Black-shortlisted EDWARD CARPENTER: A LIFE OF LIBERTY AND LOVE. She has written for many publications including the GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, the INDEPENDENT, the NEW STATESMAN and the NEW YORK TIMES.


ISBN: 978-1-84467-703-0 / $19.95 / £10.99 / $25.00CAN / Paperback / 320 pages


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