Sunday, September 9, 2012

Woman's Outlook and Mary Stott

I have become the fortunate recipient of a box full of women's magazines, which I shall be sharing with you on this blog over the coming weeks.  The oldest to so far surface from this treasure trove is a copy of the Woman's Outlook published September 11, 1926.

This magazine was first published by the Co-operative Women's Guild in 1919 and printed articles on gaining the vote and the lives of women involved in political struggle, along with employment and maternity issues, readers's letters and editorial comment.  Published fortnightly the Woman's Outlook cost three-halfpence in 1926 and was still in print in 1967.

The best known journalist associated with the Woman's Outlook has to be feminist and campaigner Mary Stott.  Born in Leicester in 1907 the daughter of journalists Robert and Amalie Waddington, Mary began her career on the Leicester Mail as a temporary copyholder.  She speedily graduated to the reporter's room, but prevented from joining the male only Typographical Association or the Correctors of the Press Association, Mary thought her prospects of becoming a proper journalist were not good.  Asked to take over the women's page she believed this was the end of her career - but it proved to be just the beginning.

In 1933 she moved to the Co-operative Press in Manchester where she edited the Women's Co-operative Guild pages of the Co-operative News along with two children's publications, the monthly Co-operative Youth and Woman's Outlook, which she wrote, sub-edited and laid out with her colleague Nora Crossley.

Throughout her career Mary battled against inequality, losing out on the editorship post at the Co-operative News because she was a woman.  As a sub editor on the Manchester Evening News in the late 1940s, Mary was sacedk in 1950 to free up the job for a man.

In 1957, aged 50 Mary was invited to edit the women's page of the Manchester Guardian by the new editor Alastair Hetherington.  She remained in the post for the following fifteen years, creating a vehicle for women's issues in the revolutionary 1960s. She retired in 1971 but did not give up the battle, continuing to campaign for women's rights.  Mary Stott died in 2002 aged 95.

Thanks to the driving force of Mary Stott, the Woman's Outlook included much more than traditional women's features, although there was a place for these as well.  This September edition includes the story of Mrs Howard, the wife of a railway guard who tells how she managds on her husband's weekly wage of £3 5s - an interesting for Swindonians researching their railway ancestors.

There's some sound dental care advice as well - although I'm not sure if 'bad teeth' cause rheumatism - another question for Mr Huws when I next see him.

Exercise advice for the 'fair, fat and forty' brigade

Even the fashion feature is punctuated by the practical - 'fashions are saner and more practical every season.'

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