Women and the Popular Imagination in the Twenties: Flappers by Billie Melman

By Billie Melman

Booklet by means of Melman, Billie

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Extra info for Women and the Popular Imagination in the Twenties: Flappers and Nymphs

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The Superfluous Woman and the Rothermere Press 31 The reading public had been acquainted with the President of the Third International and his 'Moscow bandits' three years before, when the Mail published the famous letter, allegedly signed by Zinoviev, to the Communist Party of Great Britain, so stirring up a Red-spy hysteria in the national press. Henceforth the mere mention of Zinoviev was sufficient to excite the audience. It is typical that, while the article describes the bill as a mere 'smoke-screen', it elsewhere refers to it as 'the most momentous step taken by a government for many years'.

The pattern of change evident in newspaper audiences can also be detected in the novelreading public. As it expanded, it included more and more readers from the lower-middle class and then the working class, until these came to comprise the bulk of the readership. In other words, audiences that before the war had a~cess only to magazines and the Sundays could now afford to purchase or hire reading-matter in book form. A cheap edition was hardly distinguishable from a cheap magazine. Printed on pulp paper or newsprint, in an economic two-column layout (typical of Newnes and Readers' Library reprints), the cheap editions competed successfully with the middle-price story papers.

At first glance the blending of anti-socialist propaganda with propaganda against the 'Flapper Vote Bill' may seem odd. For the social unrest of the early and mid twenties ended with the fiasco of the General 34 Women and the Popular Imagination in the 1920s Strike and organised labour embarked on a path of co-operation with the parliamentary system rather than action outside it. It may seem that in 1927 and 1928 the threat of revolution was even less real than it had been in 1919, or 1926. Yet seldom before had the tirade against the 'Moscow band' been as vehement and as persistent as during the campaign against the 'Flapper Vote Bill'.

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