Women, Magazines and the Politics of Shopping: Holtby, Jameson and Woolf




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Taylor and Francis



Peer reviewed



Shopping was a vital part of the housewife’s work in the interwar era, an activity extending from her domestic identity as homemaker but realized through economic participation in the public sphere. Directed by the consumer capitalism that sustained them, interwar women’s magazines like Good Housekeeping (UK) portrayed the modern female shopper as rational, informed, and empowered by her consumer choices. This article explores responses to consumer capitalism that trouble this ideal by Winifred Holtby, Margaret Storm Jameson and Virginia Woolf in the pages of Good Housekeeping. It demonstrates the different ways these three prominent interwar women writers critiqued consumerism in essays published in this highly commercialized periodical. Jameson drew attention to the pervasive power of advertising in ‘Money is not Happiness’ (March 1929) and ‘Advertising as a Career for Women’ (August 1928), a contribution to Good Housekeeping’s serial careers column. Holtby considered the relationship between consumption and social class in ‘The Sable Standard’ (March 1932). In ‘The Docks of London’ (December 1931) and ‘Oxford Street Tide’ (January 1932), Woolf examined the exploitative workings of imperial trade and the capitalist illusion of the democratic availability of goods. Each of these writers, I argue, urged Good Housekeeping’s readers to engage critically with the politics of shopping.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


consumerism, advertising, virginia woolf, storm jameson, winifred holtby


Wood, A. (2020) Women, Magazines and the Politics of Shopping: Holtby, Jameson and Woolf. Women: A Cultural Review, 31 (4), pp. 452-468


Research Institute

Institute of English