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Newman Humanities Research Seminar Series

The representation(s) of women in the politics of the West Midlands, 1918-1929

James Brennan

The 1918 Representation of the People Act gave the vote to millions of women. Whilst franchise restrictions remained, notably the exclusion of women under the age of 30, political parties and newspapers had to broaden their appeals. On a national scale, political language focused on domestic matters where women voters were represented as housewives, mothers and wage-earners. However, research on the gendered nature of post-1918 political language has had a national focus. In contrast more work is needed on the importance of provincial politics, such as municipal elections, in the construction of these appeals.

Hence this paper will scrutinize the representation of women as voters and candidates in the provincial press between 1918 and 1929. Specifically, it will compare the political language employed by Labour, Unionist and Liberal newspapers in the West Midlands. This paper will argue that reports by the provincial press, and the campaigning of female municipal candidates, demonstrated that gendered political language was also constructed at the provincial level.

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