Biography & Memoir herbrilliantcareer

Published on October 21st, 2013


Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties by Rachel Cooke

| Press reviews | Buy the book | Have your say |

Blurb: 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?

Read more

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 Grey, 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.

This is the Fifties, retold: vivid, surprising and, most of all, modern.

(Virago, 2013)

Read an extract from the book | Telegraph

Melanie Reid, The Times 

“Cooke sought, she says, to achieve a sly form of feminism by uncovering inspirational role models: long-forgotten women, flawed, driven, daring, who put today’s inequalities into perspective. She has more than succeeded. 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. The highest praise I can give her is to say that she leaves you wanting more.”

Read full review (£)

Alexandra Harris, The Guardian 

“…an exuberant, glass-chinking book… This is a splendidly various collection of “brief lives” written with both gusto and sensitivity.”

Read full review

Daisy Goodwin, The Sunday Times 

“This is a refreshing book — it is rather wonderful to read about women who achieve great things without spending a nanosecond worrying about whether they are spending enough quality time with their children, or whether they need Botox. Cooke’s subjects are gloriously tough, too busy pursuing their dreams for introspection or self-doubt. These women achieved what they did because they were able to pierce the blanket of male supremacy. They were happy to achieve something; they weren’t obsessed with having it all.”

Read full review (£)

Claire Harman, London Evening Standard 

“The bright and breezy social history she spins around the lives of 10 little-known women of the period is careful to look as if it has no axe to grind or theory to peddle … It’s the nonconformist spirit of these women that Cooke is really celebrating and her anecdotes are great”

Read full review

Sheila Rowbotham, The Telegraph

“Ever curious about women’s lives, I certainly learnt much I did not know from Her Brilliant Career. The book succeeds in both informing and engaging because Cooke’s arresting observations flash from the narrative … However, in giving us a series of character sketches, the book is inclined to skim the surface. Cooke does not probe as a biographer, nor contextualise and analyse as a historian.”

Read full review

Buy the book

Amazon | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones

Share Button
Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties by Rachel Cooke The Omnivore



User Rating: 0 (0 votes)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Back to Top ↑