Susan Pedersen

Susan Pedersen is busy writing a book about marriage and politics in the Balfour family.

Flocculent and Feculent

Susan Pedersen, 23 September 2021

Of the many​ hardships visited on New York in the first months of the pandemic, food shortages weren’t among them. Supply chains held. Cleaning products vanished from supermarket shelves but there was still plenty to eat. The system showed its tensile strength, its eerie ability to deliver food of all kinds even to a population pinned in place, unequally able to purchase it. When the...

On​ 18 June 1914, Sylvia Pankhurst was released from Holloway prison. She was in bad shape. A year earlier the Liberal government had passed the so-called Cat and Mouse Act as a response to the hunger strikes undertaken by militant suffragettes in prison. Under its terms, women could be released when they became dangerously weak (not just from hunger, but also from the travails of...

Mothers were different: The Breadwinner Norm

Susan Pedersen, 19 November 2020

Fathers sat down to a kipper or a boiled egg at breakfast (and gave one fav­oured child the top); their dependants ate porridge. Kind fathers sometimes shared tidbits; others avoided the whole drama and ate alone. It’s true, of course, that many men were doing hard manual labour: they needed those hearty meals. But these be­ haviours were also about status. Even men in sedentary jobs ate eggs and bacon while their children ate bread and dripping.Mothers were different. Mothers fed you, sent you to school, decided when you’d go to work – and, if you were a girl, pulled you out of school when you were needed at home. Mothers ruled every aspect of your life.

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen, 4 June 2020

When​ Shelagh Delaney, all of 19, started writing A Taste of Honey, it had only two characters: Jo, the 15-year-old Salford school-leaver whose choices and chances structure the story, and her forty-year-old often skint but always cadging mother, Helen. Other characters were added later. Peter, the louche businessman with a ‘wallet full of reasons’ to lure Helen offstage and into...

Shock Cities: The Fate of Social Democracy

Susan Pedersen, 2 January 2020

These​ two books will be read, inevitably, as studies of neoliberalism, a world order – and a word – that has snuck up on us in the last few decades. I say ‘snuck up’ for a reason. I remember the 1980s, when our antagonists were identifiable and embodied: the one with the handbag, the one with the cowboy hat, and then their grey successors. We were so happy when...

Parcelled Out: The League of Nations

Ferdinand Mount, 22 October 2015

I have often thought​ of writing a history of own goals. It would try to identify the factors common to the great boomerangs of the past: the conceit that mistakes itself for cunning, the...

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Associated Prigs: Eleanor Rathbone

R.W. Johnson, 8 July 2004

When Susan Pedersen writes that Eleanor Rathbone was the most significant woman in British politics in the first half of the 20th century she might have added that another Somerville alumna,...

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Here’s to the high-minded

Stefan Collini, 7 April 1994

In the Seventies and Eighties, right-wing think-tanks and their academic lapdogs put about the idea that the ills of contemporary Britain were fundamentally due to its genteel aversion to...

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