This collection of literary/historical essays, written 1970-2010, covers political subjects as diverse as 17th Century Quaker persecution history, the social impact of Malthus, the self-emancipation of English women, Elear Rathbone on the human rights of girls and German women's resistance to Hitler. The more literary subjects include the social thinking of the English Romantics, Dickens' Great Expectations, Simone Weil's great essays attacking militarism and Virginia Woolf's opposition to the State -- as well as contemporary American women poets on the problem of war. But despite all its diversity, this collection has one unifying theme -- the necessity for resistance, for thinking against the current', as Virginia Woolf wrote in Thoughts on Peace in an Air-raid'. The torch of resistance to oppression and militarism is shown to have been continuously handed on through the generations from the seventeenth century to our own day by men and women who had the courage, at whatever personal cost, to 'fight with the mind'. This book of passionate, lively essays is t merely a treasure trove for biographical researchers; it is also strengthening medicine, introducing us to unfamiliar forebears who can help us in our current struggle for a better world. As Simone Weil said: We can find something better than ourselves in the past .
Sybil Oldfield, Emeritus Reader in English, University of Sussex, is the author of Spinsters of This Parish; Women Against the Iron Fist, 19001989; The Collective Biography of Women in Britain 15501900; British Women Humanitarians 19001950; Afterwords Letters on the Death of Virginia Woolf; and Jeanie, an Army of One Mrs. Nassau Senior 18281877, the First Woman in Whitehall. She has also edited This Working-Day World Womens Lives and Cultures in Britain 191445.