Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 3, 2013 7:15pm-8:01pm EDT

7:15 pm
>> the gentleman right behind. >> thank you very much. thank you very much. wonderful poems and inspiration. i love the lessons that you teach. such as the one about letting go of resent. that has been a lesson that i really need to learn. i will admit -- i just want to say i -- just say, i highly recommended. that's all. >> thank you. [applause] >> we have time for one more question. for testimony. [laughter] >> the lady all the way in back.
7:16 pm
keep your hand up. >> i think you for the paper clip moment. i doubt i will look at a paper clip again with such value. thank you. >> and we say thank-you said alice walker. thank you for coming. [applause] >> for more reformation, visit the authors website. >> you're watching book tv on c-span2. here is our prime time lineup for tonight. next, an interview from book tv recent visit to london. we sat down with virginia nicholson to talk about her research on women in wartime and her famous family.
7:17 pm
then at 8:00 p.m., a panel on the protection of civil liberties in the united states. at 10:00, susan crawford joins book tv in an interview she talks about her book captive audience the telecom industry and monopoly power in the new gilded age. we wrap up tonight's programming at 11:00 p.m. eastern. reporting on the hijacking of western airlines flight 701 in 1972. a visit booktv.org for more of this weekend's television schedule. >> and now book tv in london. book tv interviewed virginia nicholson during our recent visit to talk about her research on women in wartime. the author of four nonfiction books, including "singled out: how two million british women survived without men after the first world war" and "millions like us: women's lives in war and peace".
7:18 pm
this is just over half an hour. >> host: joining us this week on book tv from london is of 3011. a couple of her books are about women and war. where did you come up with that topic? >> guest: well, it seems to me something that both ideas one hugely. you cannot separate one from the other and the women's movement is inextricable from the idea of war. i started out by writing a book about the first world war affect on women. rather specific topic in a way, but one that i hope the appeals very strongly to a large number of women today. it's called "singled out: how two million british women survived without men after the first world war." the idea was to look at women who had been left single after the huge and terrible slaughter
7:19 pm
of world war one. in this country nearly three-quarters of a million men died in the trenches and in dreadful circumstances on the western front. the results were that women growing up in this country who had more or less assumed that marriage, motherhood was their birthright turned around and realize that they're just not enough men to go around. they did this census in 1921 in britain. they've worked out that there were approximately 2 million more women than men in the country which meant women had to reinvent themselves and try to figure out who they were and their identity and the economic and finding a path for themselves through life. i discovered when i looked deeply into this subject,
7:20 pm
kickstart the feminism and the 20th century. it had already began. we know about this suffragettes, when chaining themselves to railings. but in the sense that took off in a very big way simply because there were so many women flooding the market. they had to find lives for themselves. they turned their own lives around and turned the lives of other women around in the process. so that was the first book. i picked up, and a sense, where that left off when i wrote another book very much about when in in war, more so, called "millions like us: women's lives in war and peace". it was looking at the decade of the 1940's. it was kind of a leap into the unknown. i didn't make any great pains to be an academic historian.
7:21 pm
i see myself as writing for a very general, very popular, mainstream publisher. so in a sense my lack of knowledge to begin with was almost an advantage. it meant that i was seeing things a new. i said to myself, what do i know about the second world war? well, what i know is what a lot of people in this country know for my generation and indeed other generations. for me, the second world war is about the battle of britain, aircraft, battleships, men in uniform storming the beaches in normandy. eisenhower and winston churchill , exulting gasol to fight on the beaches and so on and so forth. in other words, it is about guns and metals and man.
7:22 pm
so for me that was just one side of the story. i could not relate to it. i could admire it, feel fascinated by it, but it did not seem to have anything to do with me. so i decided inevitably after the previous book to look at it through the eyes of women. that is what i set out to do. >> host: well, virginia nicholson, let's start with the first book. women had to reinvent themselves after world war one because of the death of some many men. what were some of the ways they did that? >> guest: well, i think that it is safe to say that the 1920's, the decade following the first world war was really a decade when a lot of women started to be alarmed to enter the profession which hitherto they had not been permitted to do.
7:23 pm
they started to be allowed to sit on juries, for example, which they had previously not been allowed to do. all kinds of specialized areas, the law, politics, all sorts of achievements in sports. these were women who were really finding their way. because they could not marry, there was no one to marry, that was one direction, but -- pushed them to professions, new fields. campaigning and activism. there was a wonderful organization called that national association set up by one of these were spinsters who live in the north of england. she was of forceful little woman she set out to try and get proper pension rights for
7:24 pm
spinsters who she felt were discriminated against. having to make their own way. the government was not giving them proper welfare arrangements . so she was a great campaigner. i think in other fields, more intimate, more, and a sense, and word, emotional if you like. single women also had a great challenge. they had to work out -- if you cannot be married or have children, were you going to do about your urge toward motherhood your physical need? and that was something that took a lot of exploring, i must say. it is not the easiest thing to research. it was something that women had to deal with and dealt with in all kinds of interesting ways to be one such as? >> guest: i don't know how detailed you want me to get.
7:25 pm
i did a lot of research. a pioneering birth control expert. she wrote a book published in the early twenties called married love. married love, note. it was completely targeted at really explaining sex to married couples. and you have no idea how ignorant people could be. it just phenomenal, the stuff that people did not know. we, of course, are accustomed to being deluged with information on sex. this was not the case. it was really very tragic, the amount of ignorance. enormous amounts of women wrote and said, you know, can you explain things to me? tell me how to stop having babies. i went to the archives.
7:26 pm
letters, and among them very, very sad letters from single women saying, what am i to do about these urges that i'm feeling? and i'm sorry to say she was unsympathetic. it was more to see yourself to be condoning extramarital sex. so she would reply and saying, i'm sorry. this is a problem you have to gasol for yourself at the moment. i recommend a cold bath. some of the letters were very graphic about solutions that the women had found for dealing with their sexual urges. things that would be very familiar to us today, but women here were way out of their depth should i be doing this? if i do, will it harm me? should i do it more than once a
7:27 pm
month? you know, is it going to cause terrible damage? as i say, i'm afraid they did not get much feedback. there was also, of course -- and this was of very difficult area to research -- the whole question of female homosexuality and there is no question that women who did not have relationships, marriage, they fared very close relationships with other women. and on the whole these were regarded as innocent until an absolutely inflammatory book was published in 1929 called the well of loneliness which i expect some of you may have -- it was written by ratliff all. it is still -- it has never been out of print. the minute that hit the press it terrible scandal broke out.
7:28 pm
the book was banned, which guaranteed its popularity. suddenly female friendships did not look quite so safe and cozy after all. so you would kate may be too female teachers going off and deciding to be together, and it would start to look subject. i tend to say innocent until proven guilty. that is the way we work in this country. and so i don't make any assumptions that women who live together or necessarily cavorting in bed. i'm pretty sure that some of them were. >> host: was there are rise in single mother had during this time? that 2 million plus women. >> guest: i cannot give you a statistic. this is a book i wrote about six years ago. there certainly was, you know,
7:29 pm
the phenomenon of women having to cope with single motherhood. i think a lot of women again very sadly and tragically decided that it was -- if they allowed themselves to have sex with a man who perhaps was taking advantage of them it might bring them happiness or relationships. of course many times these were women who were abandoned. interesting, a woman who was i think more or less not resigned to of motherhood. she set out and said, i'm going to adopt. she went out and adopted at the age of 49. she was a woman of the church. a religious journalist who became editor of the church of england church *.
7:30 pm
she adopted this 2-year-old boy. and it is a very touching story. another fascinating thing. slightly straying from the point, but i loved very deeply the relationship of women with their pets, animals. of course, animals so often become a substitute. and one woman i looked at devotes an entire chapter of her memoirs to all the dogs she ever loved and are live which numbered about 17, i think. i try not to be judgmental about this. relationships or relationships. if you love of god, that's an emotional release, isn't it? >> host: what about poverty rates and social welfare programs? where they're increases in both of those because of the single
7:31 pm
women after world war one? >> guest: no. people were very unsympathetic on all. i think they felt that the women were a problem. and when the statistics were released in 1921 after the census, i can't give you the exact figure, but approximately 2 million more women than men. the women were described as surplus women and in some cases superfluous women. the entire attitude was what do we do about them? they are a problem. they are surplus to requirements , don't fit in, don't belong, not doing what women are supposed to do. how do we get rid of them? to we, you know, bury them? a lot of people suggested shipping them abroad to what were in those days known as the dominion, new zealand or canada
7:32 pm
or australia. it was taught that there were men in want of wives. actually, quite a number of women tried this. one thing that did go up quite considerably was immigration by single women. so they kind of boarded ships and set off across the ocean. it turned out to be not quite so simple. the first world war had included many soldiers had come to fight on the western front from australia, canada, etc. many of them had died. where men did want why this was in the jungle or the bush. and actually, you know, that was not necessarily where you wanted to be. not that cozy. >> host: this is book tv on c-span2, and we are talking with author virginia nicholson about
7:33 pm
some of her books. we have been discussing her first book on women and war, "singled out: how two million british women survived without men after the first world war." it's about world war one. her most recent book is about world war ii, and it is entitled "millions like us: women's lives in war and peace." what happened to british women once world war ii began? >> guest: well, that was something i said to the task of finding out. the first thing -- call me naive, i have not realized until i started looking at the second world war, the women in this country were conscripted. no other country conscripted women. but the situation was so bad in the sense that there were men doing desk jobs who were actually needed as soldiers. you had to do something about it. so when men were conscripted. if you were between the ages of
7:34 pm
19 and 50 and you did not have young children or elderly dependents you had to do either work of national importance in the factories, on the farms, join the forces or work in health care. not only munitions factories, lot of them did mending or repairing or building aircraft or ammunition. a very large number when out and became auxiliary territorial service, i.e. the women's army. the top service that women joined, the one that was most desirable, though women's royal naval service. i think -- again, it really amused me, the thing that governs most women's decision
7:35 pm
was the uniform. and the uniform was really very chic. it did not have bulky pockets. beautifully tailored jacket. it had this adorable little hat. so that was very popular. as was the women's aircraft and salary. so they all had to participate, in other words. >> host: worthies married women, single women? how many were conscripted? >> guest: i'm sorry to say i can't produce a figure of the top of my head. many, many thousands. we are talking well over a million women who were conscripted into the services, probably two or three times that if you're talking about the factories and farms.
7:36 pm
and the -- most of them tended to be singled for the simple reason that did not have children. there were plenty of examples of married women her children were a little bit older but still fell into the age parameters. a story about of women who decided to work in transport in bradford. sheffield. she had a 14-year-old son. her husband was away. basically look after himself. she would get up at 4:00 each morning and go out and work. she would come home around 3:00 in the afternoon. then have her housework and shopping and so one. it was an absolute juggling act because women who were doing those kinds of jobs and you were mothers or wives were still expected to have meals on the
7:37 pm
table. there were still expected to do the shopping. it was not the you stopped being -- filling all the normal expectations. you just doubled. he did everything plus. >> host: where most of these women housewives going into world war ii? >> guest: many of them were young women, perhaps women who had come out of universities, perhaps women who had been -- i mean, the jobs range for women at that time was not huge. you probably went into retail work for clerical work. those with a kind of jobs that women were expected to do. he didn't do men's jobs. there was a gender division. so to come out of those jobs and joined the war effort. >> host: what is a school leader? >> guest: somebody who --
7:38 pm
>> host: someone who left before graduating. >> guest: left school. secondary school at the age of either fourteener 16. >> host: and moved into -- >> guest: move into employment. the vast majority of girls in this country left school at 14. that age was not raised until the late 1960's in this country. so they left school at 14. maybe do a job in a shop for a factory. many would give marriott. >> host: so, when the war ended what happened to all these women who were now employed in professional and men's jobs? >> guest: well, of course there were pretty much expected to go back with it, -- come from. it was very difficult.
7:39 pm
it was difficult for them because they had discovered that they could do all sorts of things. they had capacity that they had not dreamed of. it opened the doors, open up their world. they had traveled, met people, next. they had amazing responsibilities. when the war came to an end it did not happen overnight. the ones who were married rejoined their husbands who also had been demobilized. and that led to a large number of complex situations. man coming back who had been away for four or five years returning to find their wife had maybe had an affair, an illegitimate child.
7:40 pm
they themselves would have traumatic experiences, might have been in prison, one did, might have been tortured, as many were in the far east, japan the relationships could not pick up with their heads liftoff. it was a colossal amount of adjustment needed to be made. i explore a lot of individua stories. all just give you an example. a have the story of love woman who felt terrific man passionately in love with the young man when she was working in yount -- london as a young woman. there relationship to cough. war broke out. he was away for five years and was one of the once tortured in japan. meanwhile she had a really interesting time. she joined and was involved in
7:41 pm
the normandy landings. she had a boyfriend. she did not know where the first portion was. the end the war ended. about a year later she got a job at the bbc as a production assistant. one day there was a knocking her doorbell and it was him. they had to read like this park. the marriage had almost dwindle to nothing. he was a broken man. she realized that the love was still there, but nothing else was there. there was this tiny the will spark. she sacrificed the rest of her life to have. his health was absolutely ruined his morale, mental state was dreadful. this woman just took a back seat for the rest of her life.
7:42 pm
there are many, many examples of that kind. >> host: were you able to conduct some oral histories? >> guest: absolutely. i do that for all my books. my background is a television journalist. so i don't just, you know, deal with facts and archive material. i'm not that kind of historian. i'm very journalistic and my approach. i don't talk to women who been through the experiences. in the case of single women, was talking to women in their late 90's and early hundreds because it was such a long time ago. in the case of war time women, there are still many, many women out there. the first one i talked to was my mother who is 96. at the time she was a mere 92. she told me her story which was
7:43 pm
not unusual. i want to tell the stories of ordinary, frightened, when it could have been me. i started with my mother. then, of course, it spread out. her story was said. she was in love with a man who was killed in 1943. she had to get through the rest of the war in a state of tragic loss and then picked up live in a very interesting way by taking up the job in the reconstruction of germany. she went out to germany in late 1945 and stay there until 47. i think maybe that helped the healing process. i think seeing the appalling state of germany belong to
7:44 pm
smithereens. she said, we had it bad. she'd never seen anything like hamburger. it was flattened. she went to see boston -- >> host: the concentration camp. >> guest: obviously after the people had been released. at think she was shocked to the core. she started the healing process so that she was able to pick her life of. of course she did later meet another man and had a very long and happy marriage with him. >> host: speaking of your family, your first book is completely unrelated to women and war. is there any connection between "charleston: a bloomsbury house and garden" and your later books on women in war? >> guest: that was the book that started me off. the book was done in collaboration with my father
7:45 pm
whose name was quentin bell. he was in the process of writing it. he was dying and you knew that he was. he has to be the help him which i think was a kind of coated way of saying, could i pick up the boat when he could no longer do so. in fact, that's exactly what i did. once the funeral was decently over i had a phone call from the publisher saying, we need this book in three months' time. to you think you could possibly get on with it? and so i had no intention at that point of being a writer. of course my own interest was underlying it. the story of this fascinating house. now, charleston is a home of two british artists. my grandmother and her lifelong companion.
7:46 pm
it's a museum. it's a beautiful and extraordinary and very, very special place hidden in the south downs very near where i now live. it's a farm house, but every inch of the house is decorated. the sister of virginia woolf who was my great ancestor for a mine named. so of that group used to visit charleston. the poet, novelist, a musician. and these kinds of people over 20 with 30 or 40 years and at the same time the house was decorated. as i said, covered almost from head to foot. endeavors, the chairs, curtains,
7:47 pm
lamps, floors, rugs, paintings on walls, of plethora, cornucopia of color. so that was what the book was initially about. this very beautiful photograph. and the idea was to provide the text. now, my father had written his, but my perceptions of the house were different. add known as a child when my grandmother was alive. i wanted to know from my adult perspective how how the heck my grandmother cope with this house , what she did about the children, getting meals on the table, the bathrooms when these people can the state. what did she feed them all? and that was tough my father was not interested in. i think that's the missing link. i think those of the questions i
7:48 pm
think readers, particularly female readers one task. there certainly the questions that i asked. it was a museum open to the public from april until october every year. i highly recommend it and the book. >> host: virginia nicholson, here in our series and london we also talked with her money. are you familiar with her? >> guest: i do now are well. >> host: what do you think of her? >> guest: she's a spectacular rider. she's done something completely marvelous. my father, of course, wrote the first biography. he wrote that a good 15 years before she took on. his and had always been to do innocents -- in a sense of personal memoir and to tell the life. he did not regard himself as a literary critic. he always vetoed that area.
7:49 pm
these for books she wrote, but he did not explore them or look for the link between her writing and life. that's what she did. she absolutely kind of gave the full and rounded picture of a writer's life. >> host: if viewers are interested in contacting you, what is the best address? >> guest: i have my own website. i can't remember. and i don't have a direct link, but all of my agents, the details are on a. a u.s. agent, an english agent. thus the best way anyone who wants to write to charleston, go on to the website.
7:50 pm
any communications to charleston that are addressed to me will be put through. >> host: i.e. working on another book, particularly when it comes to women, work, or a topic related? >> guest: i left for behind. the marching step -- steadily up the century. the current book is about women in the 19th century. i've taken that decade, 1950- 1960. it's fascinating, difficult. it does not have the strong historical momentum of the previous decade, but the really interesting thing is we always assume that a lot of things were fought in the 1960's. i'm discovering that a lot of things we think happened had already happened. it is a decade of great extremes, a decade when you could look on the one hand to mass of the young conservative
7:51 pm
movement. and on the other extreme the invention of the teenager and rock-and-roll. another extreme, the women's institute which for your american viewers we tend to add the epitaph german jerusalem. country women who get together to make jams and jellies and sang hymns. it's a very sort of cozy, at least the images. again, the other extreme is nuclear disarmament. 1950's was the height of the cold war, communism, the mccarthy era. i was talking the other day to a woman who joined the communist party when she was at cambridge university in 1951. i talked to women who joined the nuclear disarmament campaign, women who worked in factories. i've talked t w
7:52 pm
jamaica because, of course, it was the first wave of immigration into this country. and black people who came over here, subject to the most horrendous discrimination. i talked to an old lady living in south london who told me about how she was turned away knocking on doors looking for somewhere to live. it is just a fascinating era full of contradictions but quite extraordinary. a lot of people still alive who remember it. grand mothers, mothers, aunts. i'm hoping i get a lot of readers. >> host: virginia nicholson is an author. book tv is in london. we appreciate your time. >> guest: thank you so much. >> for more of formation on
7:53 pm
these and other interviews from london visit booktv.org. watch book tv every sunday at 6:00 p.m. over the next several weeks for more. >> when did we reach a point where you have to have a certain philosophy because of the color of your skin? when did that happen? [applause] you know, a reporter once asked me why i did not talk a lot about race. i said, because i'm a neurosurgeon. [laughter] [applause] they thought that was pretty strange. i said, when i take someone to the operating room and kept the scalp and peel it down and take off the bomb flap and open the door up, operating on the thing that makes that person who they are. the cover does not make them who they are. when are we going to understand that? [applause] >> surgeon and author ben carson
7:54 pm
takes calls, e-mails, facebook comments, and tweets. three hours live sunday at noon eastern on book tv on c-span2. >> here is a look at some books being published this week.
7:55 pm
>> the story is a very sad story of how you discovered the famine and how it affected your family. [speaking in native tongue] [speaking in native tongue]
7:56 pm
>> i was in the second year of my senior high-school. it was the spring of 1959. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: so my high-school, which was the only school in the county was 10 kilometers away from my village. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: a childhood friend came to my school and told me that my father was dying [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: and asked me to the take him back home to visit my father. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: so i went to the student cafeteria asking them to us stop my ration of food for three days so i could take one and a half kilos of
7:57 pm
rice back to my dad. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: so for students , the public schools were guaranteed some food. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: so after i gave my father the rice my father urged me to leave. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: so i went out to the fields and got wild vegetables and gave him the wild vegetables and then left. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: i did not realize my father was in his
7:58 pm
condition. he could not eat their rice at all. he knew he was dying, so he urged me to leave. then he told his neighbor -- don't tell me the news of my death -- of his death until he passes away. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: i did not return home again until a few days later when my childhood friend came with the bad news. i went back and my father was already dead. >> you did not realize at the time that this was a wider problem. [speaking in native tongue]
7:59 pm
>> translator: hi -- my father's death, i felt it was because i was in my school away from home, so i was not around to take up while festivals to feed him. >> when did you realize that this was a big problem and not just a problem in your village? [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: it took me a long time. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: not intel in the middle of a cultural revolution. [speaking in native tongue] [speaking in native tongue]
8:00 pm
>> translator: until the middle of the cultural revolution, the governor of my province was criticizing the secretary of the province, blaming him. that was the time when they disclosed. disclosed the figure that 300,000 people had died of starvation in that province alone. ..

57 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on