Abstract

This article investigates an explosion of media interest in "women's ages" and the corresponding idealization of youth in Britain during the 1920s and '30s. In this period, the social implications of aging came to be seen as particularly vexed, especially for women, who were considered social commodities. Various contexts are identified in which the obsession with gendered age emerged, including changing economic theories of accumulation and consumption, shifts in population, the emergence of gerontology as a discipline, and the evolving status of women. Examining how both high literary works and popular magazines produced at the time articulated and responded to these new attitudes, the article concludes by considering Rose Macaulay's novels, Dangerous Ages and Keeping up Appearances. These novels reveal that economic dependence and restricted life choices contribute to women's keen sense of loss over time, and that these serious psychological costs are often disguised behind what is feared and mourned as the "loss" of youth. Ultimately, the anxieties about aging projected by early-twentieth-century culture served to deflect women's attention from personal and professional development that began to seem within reach after World War I.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2151-7371
Print ISSN
2151-7363
Pages
pp. 138-161
Launched on MUSE
2006-03-22
Open Access
No
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