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Her Brilliant Career

Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties
  • Author
    • Rachel Cooke
Regular price £10.99
Regular price Sale price £10.99
In her apron and rubber gloves, a smile lipsticked permanently across her face, the woman of the Fifties has become a cultural symbol of all that we are most grateful to have sloughed off. A homely compliant creature, she knows little or nothing of sex, and stands no chance at all of having a career. She must marry or die.

But what if there was another side to the story?

In this book Rachel Cooke tells the story of ten extraordinary women whose pioneering professional lives - and complicated private lives - paved the way for future generations. Muriel Box, film director. Betty Box, film producer. Margery Fish, plantswoman. Patience Gray, cook. Alison Smithson, architect. Sheila van Damm, rally car driver and theatre owner. Nancy Spain, journalist and radio personality. Joan Werner Laurie, editor. Jacquetta Hawkes, archaeologist. Rose Heilbron, QC.

Plucky and ambitious, they left the house, discovered the bliss of work, and ushered in the era of the working woman.

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  • Published: May 01 2014
  • Pages: 384
  • 196 x 128mm
  • ISBN: 9781844087419
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Press Reviews

  • David Kynaston, author of Modernity Britain

    A gallery of vividly drawn portaits - witty, poignant, inspiriting - that opens up a new front in our understanding of the "lost" Fifties
  • Kate Atkinson

    Rachel Cooke shines a new light in an elegantly original way into the 1950s and especially into the role of women therein. By cleverly focussing on the lives of several extraordinary women, she manages to produce a social history which is highly absorbing and richly informative. A very enjoyable and distinctive book
  • The Times
    There is warmth and lightness of spirit to this book: it is witty, intelligent, kind and poignant. Cooke exudes love and knowledge of people, gardens, food, art . . . she leaves you wanting more
  • Telegraph
    Vastly entertaining, cannily researched and sharply perceptive
  • Daily Mail
    Inspirational, warm and witty
  • Amanda Craig

    Independent on Sunday
    Eloquent, concise, fair-minded, witty and elegant . . . Her Brilliant Career is the perfect book with which to celebrate Virago's 40 years of championing feminist writing
  • Melanie Reid

    The Times
    Ten fascinating biographies for the price of one, and an exuberant dig into a decade which we've rather grassed over. Her Brilliant Career is a vivid, witty, affectionate page-turner about some amazing lost heroines
  • India Knight

    Sunday Times
    Rachel Cooke's fantastic, clever, funny, illuminating book about 10 remarkable women
  • Oldie
    What a treat . . . Thank you, Rachel Cooke, for finding, and judiciously commenting on, these women insouciant of feminism and strangers to guilt (which 'had not yet been invented'); for succinct scene-setting of the 1950s with phrases like 'Cue mambo on the juke-box'; and for never once using the dread word "feisty"
  • Sebastian Faulks

    New York Times
    Cooke is one of the outstanding British journalists of her generation
  • Guardian
    Cooke writes with such zest about such interesting lives
  • The Economist
    Her Brilliant Career is a corrective, a hurrah for the oldies. Despite barriers that dwarf those that persist today, plenty of gutsy women rode the Fifties unthwarted and unclenched. Ms Cooke takes an exuberant gallop through the careers and private lives of ten of them in Britain