Friday, October 02, 2009

'In defending her liberties, she neglects the graces a little'

Another dispatch from the (rather relentless) debate about the 'modern woman' in the 1920s.


Noted Author Satisfied With Modern Youth

She or He?

Sir Galahads with Gentle Voices

'The young men of to-day, being gentle and gracious, make up for the boisterousness of the girls.'

Sir Edmund Gosse, the distinguished author, who celebrated his 78th birthday yesterday, made this comment in reviewing his ideas on modern youth in an interview last night.

'The woman of 21 is, of course,' he said, 'much more emancipated and manages things for herself. She has a very great advantage over the girls of my youth, but I think there is danger sometimes that, in defending her liberties, she neglects the graces a little.'

'I think, however, that the women of to-day are a great advance on what their grandmothers were. I wish, however, they were not quite so boisterous.'

'I find it a little difficult to distinguish who are the men and who the women--the only distinction seems to be the somewhat abbreviated skirt. The young man of to-day is much better behaved than when I was young.'

'There is an absence of anything like brutality. That is why I find it so difficult to know where the authors of the mediocre type of novel of to-day find their types.'

'There is, for instance, the strong young man who breaks up the furniture. I do not think he exists at all. Such ideas are mere conventionality, and show a complete want of observation.'

A rather different view of 'modern youth' was offered on the same page, immediately following:


Views of Miss 1927 by Mrs. 1821

'Girls who go about with skirts up to their knees, with hair cut like a man's, and a cigarette dangling from their lips, ought to be smacked and put to bed.'

This was the opinion expressed in an interview yesterday by Mrs. Sarah Collins, aged 106, of Shillington-street, Battersea, who claims to be the oldest woman in England.

Next to her dislike of modern girls and their ways, Mrs. Collins said she detested present methods of travelling.

As to doctors, she exclaimed: 'Doctors are no use to me. If people worked hard and went to bed at the proper time there would be no need for doctors. They always fuss about so much!'

(Both articles: Daily Herald 22 September 1927, p. 1.)

1 comment:

Dale said...

I question how diligently Sir Edmond Gosse searched for "strong young men who break up the furniture" -- I, for one, find them as commonplace as can be. This casts doubts on the rest of Sir Edmond Gosse's writings, whatever the hell those are.

I do love the olde-timey newspaper clips. Thanks.