Review: Edith Morley Before and After. Reminiscences of a Working Life


This is a memoir by the first female professor in the UK, Edith Morley, Professor of English Language at the University of Reading. It’s an essential read for anyone exploring the history of women’s higher education in Britain, and for those keen on reliving the struggles of women to make headway in a profession that really wasn’t sure they ought to be there….

Rescued from the archives by Barbara Morris, this memoir was rejected by the first publisher Morley sent it to, in 1944 — probably because of the wartime restrictions on paper, ostensibly because Allen and Unwin told her that ‘those who don’t remember these things will have read of them often enough in novels of the period’. How fascinating to find that in the 1940s fiction was considered to be an adequate repository for women’s history. The memoir found its way to the university archive with the rest of Morley’s papers. Although she had clearly gone over the manuscript once or twice, annotating and clarifying here and there, she doesn’t seem to have made any other attempts to publish it. She died in 1964. The main building for the Humanities subjects at the university  is now named after her.

So begins Kate MacDonald’s review of Edith Morley Before and After: Reminiscences of a Working Life.  Read the complete review here.   Buy your copy of the book here.