Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat
Throughout the twentieth century and long before, hundreds of determined British women defied the social conventions of their day in order to seek adventure and influence on the world stage. Some became travellers and explorers; others business-owners or buyers; others still devoted their lives to worthy international causes, from anti-slavery and women's suffrage to the League of Nations and world peace. Yet until 1946, no British woman could officially represent her nation abroad. It was only after decades of campaigning and the heroic labours performed by women during the Second World War that diplomatic careers were finally opened to both sexes. Women of the World tells this story of personal and professional struggle against the dramatic backdrop of war, super-power rivalry and global transformation over the last century and a half. From London to Washington, Geneva to Tehran, and in the deserts of Arabia, the souks of Damascus and the hospitals of Sarajevo, resolute women undaunted by intransigent officials and hostile foreign governments proved their worth. Moved by a longing to escape domestic redundancy, to follow in the footsteps of fathers or brothers, to build a more peaceful world, to discover cultures other than their own or simply to serve the nation which denied them full equality, these women were extraordinary individuals fighting prejudice in high places. Drawing on letters, memoirs, personal interviews and government records, these heroines caught up in the larger endeavours of the world's greatest empire are brought vividly to life to enrich our understanding of Britain's global history in modern times.
An original, compellingly told story of women's fight to represent their country abroad in the face of opposition from the men of the Foreign Office
A lustrous book which traces the often agonising rise of women in the Foreign Office and mercilessly dissects the resistance they encountered Peter Hennessy A path-breaking account, from one of our leading and most original historians of modern Britain, of how the male-dominated world of British diplomacy gradually - and grudgingly - let professional women in. It should be read by everyone who works in the Foreign Office, or in British embassies overseas, and by anyone, anywhere, who is concerned about the part that women have played, do play and should play, in the making of foreign policy and the conduct of international relations David Cannadine McCarthy has produced a sometimes humorous but often dispiriting picture of what women who had set their sights on foreign posting continued to experience, long after they had won a toehold in other fields Literary Review Helen McCarthy has conducted a lot of valuable interviews for her book and researched assiduously Evening Standard A fascinating account of the manoeuvres of the leaders of the Foreign Office to prevent the admission of women to its diplomatic and consular services Spectator The women are striking, the trajectories of their often brief careers compelling Observer This pioneering study gives a penetrating, readable and most welcome introduction to a neglected set of issues, and will be gratefully received by a wide readership Times Higher Education Supplement
Helen McCarthy is Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London. She studied as an undergraduate at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and as a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University. She worked briefly for the think-tank Demos before embarking on doctoral studies at the University of London. Her first book, The British People and the League of Nations (Manchester University Press, 2011), explores the vibrant popular cultures of internationalism in inter-war Britain. Before taking up her post at Queen Mary, Helen was a Research Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. She lives in London with her husband and two daughters.