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Jan 2019

2nd January

Insofar as the feminism of the 1970s played on fear, exalting the independence and interdependence of women, it was playing with fire. We cried "Sisterhood is powerful!"-- and they believed us. Terrified misogynists of both sexes were howling that the house was burning down before most feminists found out where the matches were.

Ursula K Le Guin, 'A Band of Brothers, a Stream of Sisters' (November 2010), in No Time to Spare: Thinking about What Matters (2017)

9th January

A levelling and universalizing language may deprive us of our best chances to explain varying patterns in the historical record, and -- as the greatest single aim of a historian -- to elicit why particular changes happened in particular changes at particular times.

Ronald Hutton, The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present (2017)

16th January

I feel more drawn towards them than I should ever have believed possible. Am sorry to note that abuse and condemnation of a common acquaintance often constitutes very strong bond of union between otherwise uncongenial spirits.

EM Delafield, The Provincial Lady in Wartime (1940)

23rd January

I don't write plays with the idea of giving some great thought to the world, and that isn't just coy modesty....If I wanted to write a play with a message, God forbid, it would undoubtedly be a comedy.

Noel Coward, letter to unnamed correspondent, ?c. 1959, in The Letters of Noel Coward edited by Barry Day (2007)

30th January

The joy, once guaranteed simply by opening a cover, is now more elusive. As an adult, your tastes (and/or prejudices) are more developed and particular, your time is more precious and your critical faculties are harder to switch off. As an adult, worries are greater and it takes a more powerful page to be able to banish them for the duration. Perhaps you appreciate it all the more when it comes, but I miss the days of effortless immersion, and the glorious certainty of pleasure.

Lucy Mangan, Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading (2018)

Feb 2019

6th February

Neither woman was in his book, but because of them he knew more about the women in his book than he had when he started writing about them.

Noel Streatfeild, Grass in Piccadilly (1947)

13th February

What happens to the woman who accepts the forms? One possibility is deceit, evasion, slyness,. A mind in a sense too big for its material, which is (we are constantly reminded) only a romance, only a novel, only the very private, very limited lives of people who are, after all, not terribly important. And don't worry: you will meet only propriety, only the smallest, most domestic events, only the Iron Hand in the Velvet Glove, so well done (in one case) that for quite a while many saw only the glove[.]

Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women's Writing (1983)

20th February

Jacqueline sat patient while he talked. She was not interested in what he was saying, but she was prepared to wait for the moment when she could get him back to herself if in the meantime she might listen to the tones of his voice without paying attention to his words and could let her eyes rove over the appreciative expressions of his hearers. She thought that they admired him, and that sufficed her. It was fitting that they should do so.

Vita Sackville-West, Grand Canyon (1942)

27th February

[On] the same principle as jamming a radio wave: if you can get yourself worried enough about whether you're going to be late for an appointment, you can head off any worry about what you're going to say when you get there.

Katharine Whitehorn, 'Pack Up Your Troubles In The Right Kit Bag', View from a Column (1981)

Mar 2019

6th March

I didnít want to see helpless humans. Iíd rather see smart ones rescuing each other.

Martha Wells, Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries (2018)

13th March

'Yes, but not in the South,' with slight adjustments, will do for any argument about any place, if not about any person. It is an impossible comment to answer, And for maximum irritation, remember, the tone of voice must be 'plonking'.

Stephen Potter, Some Notes on Lifemanship (1950)

20th March

Miss Grammont had the New Statesman and the Tatler and was reading one of them. She was partial to both, which was characteristic of her attitude towards life. She was one of those who see no reason why an intelligent interest in the affairs of the world should be incompatible with a taste for Eve. She enjoyed both classical concerts and new revues. She might be called a learned worldling.

Rose Macaulay, What Not: A Prophetic Comedy (1918)

27th March

[T]he problem really is those labels around which self-defined tribes in the food and drink world huddle for reassurance and reflected glory. Frankly, I donít care if you harvest your grapes by the cycles of the moon, or according to the direction of the wind on a wet Tuesday in September, or Matt LeBlancís rising hormone levels. All that matters is whether the wine tastes nice or not.

Jay Rayner, Authentic, natural, artisan - mind your language when talking about food Guardian Food Monthly, 17 Mar 2019

Apr 2019

3rd April

At its primitive heart football is a game about knocking people down. It is also monumentally boring. There was even a time when I was foolish enough to tell people this. When I did, they would look at me sadly, start talking slower, and explain that I didn't really understand the game. After seriously weighing the possibility, I have to say that they are wrong.

Gini Hartzmark, Rough Trade (1999)

10th April

[W]hile women have, in all stages of civilization and in all historical epochs, disdained sterility, they have desired to control conception. How else can the persistence and general diffusion of sometimes painful, obnoxious, troublesome, and even dangerous expedients used by women be explained unless we posit the persistence and power of such a desire?

Norman Himes, Medical History Of Contraception (1936)

17th April

I think parents of any size family are actually doing what they want, and that none is being nobler than any other. And when you start being mean about other people's motives, there's always a first-class chance you've got it wrong.

Katharine Whitehorn, 'Suffer How Many of the Little Children?' in Observations (1986)

24th April

[A]nyway, I was a private eye and this was the sort of thing private eyes do. I've never admitted it to anyone, but I still have to cheer myself on that way.

Amanda Cross, Honest Doubt (2000)

May 2019

1st May

I also know, darling, that the best way I can serve my country is not by sitting in it with a head-cold grumbling at the climate and the telephone service, but by living further away where I can really get on with my primary job which is to become a better and better writer and a more tolerant and compassionate human being.

Noel Coward, to ''Darling Larryboy' [Laurence Olivier], 12 January 1957, in The Letters of Noel Coward edited by Barry Day (2007)

8th May

[T]hose who regard life as a variety entertainment do not really get on; they forget that life is real, life is earnest, and departing leave behind them no footprints on the sands of time. They do not make a career; they do not make good; they do not, in the long run, even make much money, though that rolls in by fits and starts, and at times plentifully. They do not so much hide their talents in napkins as play ball with them.

Rose Macaulay, What Not: A Prophetic Comedy (1918)

15th May

[M]any urbanites, myself included, adore the city precisely because they donít have to live among busybodies who know their business. Instead, they design their own communities of friends: people they actually like and want to spend time with.

Steven Poole, The Right Life by Remo H Largo: review The Guardian Saturday Review, 11 May 2019

[No quotations for 22nd and 29th May]

Jun 2019

[No quotation for 5th June]

12th June

No critical display is more offensive than that which praises one author only by damning another, as though critical judgement were a seesaw on which one reputation cannot rise unless another is lowered.

Carolyn G Heilbrun, 'Virginia Woolf and James Joyce: Ariadne and the Labyrinth' (1982), in Hamlet's Mother and Other Women (1990)

Ju1 2019

Aug 2019

Sep 2019

Oct 2019

Nov 2019

Dec 2019


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History of Sexuality Women's History Stella Browne Archival matters Books
Interwar Progressives Science Fiction and Fantasy Random Links of Interest
Victoriana Quirky Stuff