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The Ascent Of Woman: A History of the Suffragette Movement [Paperback]

Melanie Phillips
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: £14.99
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Book Description

4 Nov 2004

The story of the fight to gain the vote for women is about much more than a peripheral if picturesque skirmish around the introduction of universal suffrage. It is an explosive story of social and sexual revolutionary upheaval, and one which has not yet ended. The movement for women's suffrage in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries prefigured to a startling extent the controversies which rage today around the role of women. Far from the stereotype of a uniform body of women chaining themselves to railings, the early feminist movement was riven by virulent arguments over women's role in society, the balance to be struck between self-fulfilment and their duties to family and children, and their relationship with men.

Melanie Phillips' brilliant book tells the story of the fight for women's suffrage in a way which sets the high drama of those events in the context of the moral and intellectual ferment that characterised it.

Frequently Bought Together

The Ascent Of Woman: A History of the Suffragette Movement + Access to History: Votes for Women Third Edition + Votes For Women: The Virago Book of Suffragettes
Price For All Three: £33.30

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (4 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349116601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349116600
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 18 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist, author, publisher and co-founder of EM: Melanie Phillips Electric Media. She started on the left of the political spectrum, writing for The Guardian and New Statesman. During the 1990s she moved to the right, and currently writes for the Daily Mail, covering political and social issues from a social conservative perspective. Phillips defines herself as a liberal who has "been mugged by reality".

Phillips has often appeared as a panelist on the BBC Radio 4 programme The Moral Maze and BBC One's Question Time. She has written a number of books, including Guardian Angel: My Story, My Britain (2013). She was awarded the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 1996, while she was writing for The Observer. She published her memoir, Guardian Angel: My Story, My Britain on 5 May 2013.

Melanie Phillips was educated at St Anne's College, Oxford. Before joining the Daily Mail she worked for the Guardian, the Observer and the Sunday Times. She writes a monthly column for the London Jewish Chronicle, is a regular panelist on BBC Radio Four's The Moral Maze, and frequently contributes to other publications around the world including Standpoint magazine, the Spectator, the Australian and Wall Street Journal.

Her print titles include The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power, published in the US by Encounter in 2010, and Londonistan, an analysis of Britain's appeasement of Islamist extremism published in US in 2006 by Encounter and in the UK by Gibson Square.

Her other books include The Ascent of Woman, Little Brown, 2003, The Sex-Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male, Social Market Foundation, 1999; All Must Have Prizes, Warner, 1996. She also wrote a play, Traitors, which was performed at the Drill Hall in London in 1985.

Product Description


A gripping and rather magnificent new book (THE TIMES)

A richly detailed history. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

This highly enjoyable history gives an excellent sense of the vivid feuds, ideological divides and disputes which fractured the enlivened the progressive Victorian feminist movement (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

[A book] shot through with Phillip s' customary clariy... [she] shows beautifully that the vote was really symbolic of a far wider range of issues on which women were struggling to find a public voice (EVENING STANDARD)

Book Description

* A riveting account of the passions behind the fight for female suffrage: both a story of social and sexual revolutionary upheaval and a fascinating battle of ideals that continues apace today.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting and very readable 6 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a very interesting book to read and it is a shame that there aren't more books on this subject. Like the other review I would agree that it does leave you wanting to know more. There are so many questions: some of them are answered but, like other questions in history, some are not. The only qualm I had with this book was the fact that it wasn't long enough in my opinion and I found myself having too look up some of the less well-known people as the author didn't explain who they were. However this just may be my lack of knowledge on the time period and it shouldn't put you off reading the book. So it definitely gets five stars for me considering there aren't many other books like this to compare with.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electoral Equality 10 Dec 2010
Electoral equality for women was the aim and achievment of first wave feminism. Feminists have tended to regard it as a battle won and downgraded its importance in terms of the emancipation of women. Historical studies have tended to become a pastiche rather than an accurate representation of the process which secured votes for women. The association of votes for women with the Suffragettes and Mrs Pankhurst is too narrow an interpretation. In this excellent volume Melanie Phillips has placed franchise reform in its nineteenth century context, showing how it was one many movements for social change based on the moral supremacy of female virtue set against the uncivilised manners of men, especially in the public sphere.

At the end of the eighteenth century there was a vast change in manners. Romanticism " viewed sexuality as gross and materialistic" and evangelicalism sought "to banish hedonism in general and sexuality in particular from respectable consciousness and public life." These strands produced the idealised middle class values associated with Victorian England. Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman provided a starting point for the English adoption of the ideals of the French Revolution to England. Wollstonecraft's message was that the perfection of human virtue could only be attained with reason and knowledge and these should be made available for women to rescue them from the drudgery of being a toy of mankind. She regarded marriage as legal prostitution, although she married when she discovered she was pregnant. Significantly, her message was directed towards middle class women who had the capacity to make things happen. Her reputation was shot to pieces after her death when her husband William Godwin revealed her attempted suicide and promiscuity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping - Definitely Worth Reading 11 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book, so much so that when I lost it I ordered another straight away. It recounts the gripping history of the suffragette movement in all its glory and repugnance. Melanie Phillips' authorial voice is erudite and authoratative and on occasion opinionated, which gave it an edge. The author manages the complex timeline and interweaving of women's stories adeptly. Definitely worth reading.
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