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Ground Floor

Barbara Wootton, 15 October 1981

Women in Top Jobs 
by Michael Fogarty, Isobel Allen and Patrick Walters.
Heinemann, 273 pp., £14, July 1981, 0 435 83806 7
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... A few years ago, when I was reviewing a book on Women in Social Work, I made a vow to myself that I would never again engage in discussion of ‘Women in’ any sphere. It seemed to me that the time had come to recognise that sex is as irrelevant in the professional activities of men or women as it is important in our private lives. So long as this thesis remained unacceptable, and so long as many public and professional doors were closed to women, discrimination in favour of ‘women in’ this or that field was necessary to break these male monopolies ...

British Blues

Barbara Wootton, 21 May 1981

British Government and its Discontents 
by Geoffrey Smith and Nelson Polsby.
Harper and Row, 202 pp., £7.95, February 1981, 0 06 337016 6
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... Many benefits and costs attend life in a middle-aged, middle-sized, formerly prosperous, presently semi-collectivised, freedom-loving, intensely tribal, modern society with tired blood, cultivated civil servants, weak industries, strong unions, and a flourishing high culture.’ So say the authors of this book, which originated in conversations between a British journalist well-known to readers of the Times and an American professor of political science in the University of California ...

Diary

Barbara Wootton: Changes, 7 March 1985

... It would, I think, be generally agreed that in this country the generation now in its eighties or above must have seen more change in industrial processes and consequently in lifestyles than any of its predecessors at similar ages. This diary records the casual observations of one individual concerning public reactions to some of these changes which have impressed me personally, particularly in their effect upon the unwritten codes which govern the things that may be said, the questions that may be asked, and the language which may be used in the ordinary social intercourse of ‘respectable’ people ...

Making herself disagreeable

Barbara Wootton, 6 December 1984

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. III: ‘The Power to Alter Things’ 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 445 pp., £20, October 1984, 0 86068 211 0
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Beatrice and Sidney Webb: Fabian Socialists 
by Lisanne Radice.
Macmillan, 350 pp., £20, June 1984, 0 333 36183 0
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... The third and final volume of the Webb diaries, which covers the period 1905 to 1924, is appropriately subtitled ‘The Power to Alter Things’. Hitherto Beatrice had been mainly the stay-at-home book-writer and social entertainer, while Sidney pursued his activities in the London County Council as well as in the London School of Economics which the Webbs had themselves founded ...

I do and I don’t

Barbara Wootton, 21 October 1982

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. I 1873-1892: Glitter Around and Darkness Within 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 386 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 86068 209 9
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... first meeting, when she made straight for me at a party with the greeting, ‘How do you do, Mrs Wootton? What are you writing now?’ – a crushing embarrassment to a shy young woman who had then neither written, nor planned to write, anything. Beatrice had, I think, little sense of humour. Nor did she easily make contact with younger people. But she was ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Instincts

Barbara Wootton, 7 August 1980

Mrs Thatcher’s First Year 
by Hugh Stephenson.
Jill Norman, 128 pp., £6.50, June 1980, 0 906908 16 7
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A House Divided 
by David Steel.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £6.50, June 1980, 0 297 77764 5
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... classless style. But she does not have that extra dimension, obvious for example in people like Barbara Castle or Shirley Williams as ministers, of being a warm personality in an essentially male environment.’ Certainly a personality does come across in these pages. Our PM clearly has both mental and physical courage (witness her visit to Armagh) and she ...

Saving the World

Barbara Wootton, 19 June 1980

Sage: A Life of J.D. Bernal 
by Maurice Goldsmith.
Hutchinson, 255 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 9780091395506
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... It must be just 60 years ago that, as a newly appointed Cambridge lecturer, I walked the streets of that city with a young friend, Eileen Sprague, while she discussed the pros and cons of marrying Desmond Bernal – a recent Cambridge graduate. I felt sure of the outcome, and in fact they married almost immediately afterwards, when Des (as he was known to all his friends) was 21 and Eileen 23 ...

Honeymoon

Barbara Wootton, 1 December 1983

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. II: All the Good Things in Life 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 376 pp., £18, October 1983, 0 86068 210 2
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... The final entry in Volume One of this diary, dated 23 July 1892, left Beatrice safely married to her Sidney, but lamenting that, according to current convention, as ‘Mrs Sidney Webb’ she would lose both her names. The next entry is dated 16 August and is divided between a brief reference to two delightful days of ‘real honeymoon in the Wicklow Hills’ and interviews with trade-unionists in Glasgow and elsewhere relevant to the History of Trade Unionism, which was to be their first joint book ...

The Future of the Labour Party

Barbara Wootton, 18 December 1980

Healey’s Eye 
by Denis Healey.
Cape, 191 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 224 01793 4
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The Role of the Trade Unions: The Granada Guildhall Lectures 
by James Prior, Tony Benn and Lionel Murray.
Granada, 96 pp., £1, August 1980, 0 586 05386 7
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Rank and File 
by Hugh Jenkins.
Croom Helm, 179 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 7099 0331 6
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The Tragedy of Labour 
by Stephen Haseler.
Blackwell, 249 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780631113416
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Labour into the Eighties 
edited by David Bell.
Croom Helm, 168 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 7099 0443 6
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... Here is a miscellany of books, written before the 1980 Party Conference by authors who have some concern about the future of the Labour Party. Healey’s is a magnificent picture-book strung on a slender autobiographical thread, which he describes as being ‘partly about photography, partly about the world and partly about me’. Although he has included some political anecdotes, the book makes no claim to be a serious discussion of his party’s future, but it does reveal attractive aspects of the author’s personality and interests probably not hitherto widely recognised ...

Real Things

Barbara Wootton, 5 April 1984

McNee’s Law: The Memoirs of Sir David McNee 
by David McNee.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 00 217007 8
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Police and People in London. Vol. I: A Survey of Londoners 
by David Smith.
Policy Studies Institute, 386 pp., £7.40, November 1983, 0 85374 223 5
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Police and People in London. Vol. II: A Group of Young Black People 
by Stephen Small.
Policy Studies Institute, 192 pp., £4.60, November 1983, 0 85374 224 3
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Police and People in London. Vol. III: A Survey of Police Officers 
by David Smith.
Policy Studies Institute, 216 pp., £6.20, November 1983, 0 85374 225 1
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Police and People in London. Vol. IV: The Police in Action 
by David Smith and Jeremy Gray.
Policy Studies Institute, 368 pp., £7.40, November 1983, 9780853742265
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... Fifty-eight years ago the man we now know as Sir David McNee was born in dire poverty in a Glasgow tenement. His father was a railwayman, and a staunch tradeunionist who rose ‘through a variety of jobs’ to be driver of many famous trains, including the ‘Royal Scot’. His mother was the daughter of a railwayman. In this book Sir David reports how he has often had occasion to refer with pride to these facts in later life, in face of suggestions that, as Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, he had no real insight into the problems of working-class life with which that office so often brought him into contact: ‘the lessons learned in Glasgow streets and tenements ...

Memories of an Edwardian Girlhood

Barbara Wootton, 4 March 1982

Girls Growing Up in Late Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Carol Dyhouse.
Routledge, 224 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 9780710008213
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Hooligans or Rebels: An Oral History of Working-Class Childhood and Youth 1889-1939 
by Stephen Humphries.
Blackwell, 279 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 631 12982 0
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... Carol Dyhouse’s book is concerned only with girls, and mainly with those drawn from middle or upper-class circles, although she makes one substantial digression in which she contrasts their educational history with that of their working-class contemporaries in the elementary schools of the day. Stephen Humphries’s story, on the other hand, theoretically covers both sexes, though boys and youths loom larger than their feminine counterparts, and his horizon does not extend beyond the working classes ...

Last Victorian

José Harris, 10 November 1994

Selected Writings. Vol. I: Crime and the Penal System 1 
by Barbara Wootton, edited by Vera Seal and Philip Bean.
Macmillan, 158 pp., £42.50, November 1992, 0 333 56676 9
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Selected Writings. Vol. II: Crime and the Penal System 2 
by Barbara Wootton, edited by Vera Seal and Philip Bean.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £42.50, November 1992, 0 333 56677 7
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Selected Writings. Vol. III: Social and Political Thought 
by Barbara Wootton, edited by Vera Seal and Philip Bean.
Macmillan, 195 pp., £42.50, November 1992, 0 333 56678 5
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Selected Writings. Vol. IV: Economic and Methodological Thought 
by Barbara Wootton, edited by Vera Seal and Philip Bean.
Macmillan, 199 pp., £42.50, November 1992, 0 333 56679 3
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... social scientists are not normally household names, but in the middle decades of the 20th century Barbara Wootton was well-known far outside the dim corridors of universities. Paradoxically for one who lived an intensely private life, she was perhaps best known as the lady professor who had flashed across the tabloid headlines by marrying a ...

Boys will be soldiers

Brian Harrison, 20 October 1983

Sure and Stedfast: A History of the Boys’ Brigade, 1883-1984 
edited by John Springhall.
Collins, 304 pp., £10, June 1983, 0 00 434280 1
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... at home only endurable at the cost of complete silence about everything that interested me’. Barbara Wootton and her childhood friends went further, and fended off the adults by evolving a private language. Only the exceptional child writes down his experience, and adults rarely think about their childhood: indeed, most adults are adept at ...

Social work – what went wrong?

Bill Utting, 14 May 1992

... pressure generated was important in speeding up decisions at both individual and policy levels. Barbara Wootton permanently deflated the pretensions of social work over thirty years ago, in Social Science and Social Pathology. More recent criticism rests upon its performance of the role prescribed for it by the state. Judgment is passed on anecdotal ...

Their Way

José Harris: On the Origin of Altruism, 12 March 2009

The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain 
by Thomas Dixon.
British Academy, 420 pp., £60, May 2008, 978 0 19 726426 3
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... Marxism. Some of the most prominent social planners of those years, such as William Beveridge and Barbara Wootton in Britain, Pierre Laroque and Francis Netter in France, together with many campaigners for a united or federal postwar Europe, were heirs and exemplars of the positivist tradition of social, political and legal thought. Two generations ...

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