A very dear friend kidnapped me today and took me to lunch and the beach. It felt very decadent and a little bit naughty. I haven’t allowed myself that luxury much lately. Instead I’ve been keeping at agent queries and job hunting–not the most fun way to spend a summer.
At my mum’s suggestion, I’ve also started watching an old BBC series called “The House of Eliott” that begins in 1920, just after the end of World War I. She thought I would enjoy seeing Sylvia’s era come to life. And I have—the costumes are swoon-worthy! It follows two sisters whose father dies and leaves them to fend for themselves, having spent most of their inheritance and not prepared them with any sort of education. They have a knack for clothing design so strike out to make a name and a living.
The thing that caught me by surprise is how women were treated before emancipation. I knew it intellectually and from history lessons, but to see how few rights women had has been shocking. It’s appalling just how much their success and very existence depended on the men in their lives. It wasn’t simply about the vote–which was important in its own right—but women were literally second-class citizens.
We were treated like children until we demanded more in the 1960s. My mum raised me to be independent, self-sufficient and to never allow a man to disrespect or control me and for that I am truly grateful. But to see just how bad it was, has been a revelation. How did Silky manage the oppression?
It also makes much more sense to me why Sylvia worked so diligently to marry “the right sort.” In her day, from within a good solid marriage to a decent and loving man, she could maintain a kind of independence that other, less fortunate women only dreamed of.
Besides, I totally get the draw of the leisure class lifestyle. Just this short window into having the free time to pop off to the beach in the middle of the day, has shown me how idyllic and freeing that sort of life would be.
Today’s post is a shot of Silky from the late 1920s or early 1930s. By this point she was estranged from Lord Ashley, but still enjoying his financial support. She was experiencing her very own kind of emancipation…and then she met Douglas Fairbanks.