Liddington, Jill 1946-
Liddington, Jill 1946-
Born March 13, 1946, in Manchester, England. Education: Keele University, B.A., 1968; University of Leeds, Ph.D., 2002. Politics: Labour Party. Hobbies and other interests: Landscape photography, country music, hill walking, yoga.
Home—Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, England. Office—School of Continuing Education, The University, Leeds LS2 9JT, England.
Historian, biographer, reader, and writer. Lecturer, School of Continuing Education, University of Leeds, 1982-2003.
Fawcett Book Prize, 1990, for The Long Road to Greenham: Feminism and Anti-Militarism in Britain since 1820; fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Royal Historical Society; honorary research fellow at the University of Leeds' Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, 2006—.
(With Jill Norris) One Hand Tied behind Us: The Rise of the Women's Suffrage Movement, Virago (London, England), 1978, Rivers Oram (London, England), 2000.
The Life and Times of a Respectable Rebel: Selina Cooper, 1864-1946, Virago (London, England), 1984.
The Long Road to Greenham: Feminism and Anti-Militarism in Britain since 1820, Virago (London, England), 1989, published as The Road to Greenham Common: Feminism and Anti-Militarism in Britain since 1820, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 1991.
Presenting the Past: Anne Lister of Halifax, 1791-1840, Pennine Pens (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, England), 1994.
Female Fortune: Land, Gender, and Authority; The Anne Lister Diaries and Other Writings, 1833-36, Rivers Oram Press, 1998.
Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote, Virago (London, England), 2006.
Jill Liddington's writings represent an exploration of feminism that spans two centuries. A survey of her works indicates her dedication to telling the stories and struggles of women that would otherwise remain untold. Liddington's book, The Long Road to Greenham: Feminism and Anti-Militarism in Britain since 1820, delves into the ideas and actions of women peace activists from the nineteenth century to the present. Regarding this effort, Choice critic M.J. Moore remarked: "The motivation for her study is the unique, now nearly ten-year-old occupation, by women only, of common land next to a U.S. military base in Berkshire that came to house U.S. cruise missiles." The conclusion of Moore's review proclaimed the book to be "a useful and interesting overview that suggests the strong international links of the feminist peace protest, especially to North America."
In The Life and Times of a Respectable Rebel: Selina Cooper, 1864-1946, Liddington pieces together the personal history of Selina Cooper through family documents and interviews with Cooper's daughter. In the process of exploring her personal life, Liddington uncovers Cooper's political history. Choice critic M.J. Slaughter praised Liddington's work not only for its political and personal history but also for its ingenuity: "Liddington's biography of Selina Cooper provides a wealth of information on British working-class, socialist, and feminist politics from the late Victorian era through WWII. This work is unique because its perspective is from the bottom up. Cooper's base of activity was consistently in her local community, and thus readers gain an understanding of grassroots politics, the move to consciousness of working women and men, and the ways these developments interacted with larger national events and institutions." Slaughter suggested that the materials Liddington uses "not only give life to the biography, but help make the work a history of family politics as well as the story of a remarkably strong and energetic woman, well respected in her community." However, Slaughter found the professional distance between Liddington and her subject an obstacle to the accessibility of the book: "Because Liddington tends to let her materials speak without a great deal of commentary or interpretation the work is most suitable for those who have a fairly solid grounding in British social and political history as well as the current approaches to women's history." Similarly, in the New Statesman, reviewer Anna Coote noted Liddington's refusal of speculation while insisting that Liddington's historical analysis more than compensates for the lack of interpretation: "Jill Liddington has clung to the evidence and resisted temptation to invent or speculate. But what she cannot deliver in colorful personal details, she makes up for in her careful analysis of the social and political context in which Selina worked. She explains why Nelson was such a fertile breeding ground for socialism. She shows how the militant suffragists formed—in spite of bitter differences—a powerful pincer movement." Coote, like Slaughter, asserted that the book's value lies not only in its biographical account of an individual, but also in what the book says about nineteenth-and twentieth-century society. "The book is valuable not just for what it tells us about the past, but for the way it reveals the process of discovery, and how fragile that can be where women in general—and working-class women in particular—are concerned," noted Coote.
In a review of Liddington's and coauthor Jill Norris's One Hand Tied behind Us: The Rise of the Women's Suffrage Movement, Times Literary Supplement critic David Mitchell declared: "Mss. Liddington and Norris faced the formidable task of reconstructing the lives of very similar women who left few documents and were no longer there to reminisce." In Mitchell's view, Liddington and Norris rose to the occasion and completed the task successfully: "From diaries, annual reports, oral history archives, newspaper files and interviews with the children of leading protagonists, set in a richly detailed political, social and industrial context, they have fashioned a readable, scholarly and rewarding study." Brian Harrison, a reviewer for the Economist, took a slightly less favorable view: "Jill Liddington and Jill Norris are simply students of the struggle for women's rights; their local searches have brought some of these distant women radicals to curiously vivid, if sometimes less than exciting, light and life."
Liddington once told CA: "I am delighted that Rivers Oram has brought out a twenty-first anniversary edition of One Hand Tied behind Us: The Rise of the Women's Suffrage Movement. It means that this history of the radical suffragists remains accessible to a new generation of readers. When I sat down last summer to write the preface to this new edition, I re-read what Jill Norris and I wrote in the 1970s. It was a fascinating process, and I was very pleased that so very little of what we had written needed to be altered."
Liddington takes on the women's suffrage movement again in 2006's Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote. The book explores the lives of eight Edwardian girls aged sixteen to twenty-five who joined the Votes for Women campaign in Yorkshire, England. London Guardian contributor June Purvis believed that "Liddington tells her story well, quoting extensively from contemporary newspaper accounts and autobiographies. But her book is weak on analysis and does not draw sufficiently on newer research." A Contemporary Review critic felt that despite Liddington's lack of "scholarly detachment" in Rebel Girls, she does provide readers who are interested in the women's suffrage movement "insights into the lives and thoughts of its lesser known, but still important, figures."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, June, 1986, M.J. Slaughter, review of The Life and Times of a Respectable Rebel: Selina Cooper, 1864-1946, p. 1590; December, 1990, M.J. Moore, review of The Long Road to Greenham: Feminism and Anti-Militarism in Britain since 1820.
Contemporary Review, spring, 2007, review of Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote.
Economist, July 15, 1978, Brian Harrison, review of One Hand Tied behind Us: The Rise of the Women's Suffrage Movement, p. 101.
Guardian (London, England), July 8, 2006, June Purvis, review of Rebel Girls.
History Today, October, 1999, Anthony Fletcher, review of Female Fortune: Land, Gender, and Authority; The Anne Lister Diaries and Other Writings, 1833-36, p. 55.
Journal of Gender Studies, March, 2001, Henrice Altnick, review of Female Fortune, p. 92.
London Review of Books, January 25, 2007, "Regular Terrors," p. 19.
New Statesman, September 21, 1984, Anna Coote, review of The Life and Times of a Respectable Rebel, p. 38.
Times Literary Supplement, July 28, 1978, David Mitchell, review of One Hand Tied behind Us, p. 842.
Jill Liddington Home Page,http://www.jliddington.org.uk (September 20, 2007).