Her Brilliant Career : Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties, Paperback Book

Her Brilliant Career : Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


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?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 Gray, 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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages, Section: 8, b/w photos
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Social & cultural history
  • ISBN: 9781844087419

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It's not really surprising that the women of the 1950's weren't all obedient housewives content to stay home while their husbands went out and conquered the world, but it is fun to read about some of the more outstanding rule flouters. The lively, enthusiastic style of writing makes this joint biography of unconventional women in a more conventional time very entertaining to read. Included among the ten women profiled is an archaeologist, an architect, a rally car driver, a magazine editor, a movie director, and Nancy Spain, who can best be described as a size large personality. Spain is the only one I had heard of before, and all of the women (and the author) are British which means Her Brilliant Career gives its readers a glimpse of post-WWII life and cultural mores in Britain--another perk for me because I haven't read much about the era between the Blitz and the Swinging Sixties. Two other fun features of the book are its subversive novels list and select bibliography--I always love a book that increases my To-Be-Read pile.

Also by Rachel Cooke