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Out of the Window

by Madeline Linford
Persephone book no:

147 148 149


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A Well Full of Leaves
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Madeline Linford with her colleagues at the Manchester Guardian.
PREFACE BY MICHAEL HERBERT

284pp
ISBN: 978 191 0263 389

Out of the Window is a quietly radical 1930 novel about sexual attraction.

It begins when Ursula, the indulged daughter of an affluent middle-class doctor living in a village in Cheshire, attends a neighbour’s party. There she meets Kenneth, an engineer from Manchester, who is raising money for the wives and children of local miners striking for better working conditions; he is ‘absurdly good looking… the other men in the room seemed limp and colourless beside him.’ The two of them marry against their parents’ wishes but, when they return from honeymoon, they soon realise that marriage does not only involve love, but also housework. 

Out of the Window is full of revealing detail about Manchester in the 1920s, not least social inequality and the role of the trade unions; it is about women’s lives not long before the watershed of WWII; and it is also steeped in what we at Persephone Books call ‘Domestic Feminism’. The main theme, however – and it is no coincidence that Out of the Window was written the year after Lady Chatterley’s Lover was not published – is whether sexual attraction is a sensible basis for marriage. As Ursula observes a few months after her wedding, “You know, there ought to be some other solution for girls in love. It isn’t fair that they should be tied all their lives and have children, just because they once felt passionate about some man and were blind to everything else. The marriage service should be postponed until they had lived together for a while and the glamorous side of it had got less.” Hear, hear, we shout from the twenty-first century.

The author of Out of the Window, Madeline Linford, was the first editor of the Guardian’s or, as it was then, the Manchester Guardian’s Women’s Page. She joined the paper in 1913 when she was 18 and a decade later was appointed an editor. Yet somehow, in addition to her journalism, she also found time to write five novels, including Out of the Window.

Endpaper

A roller printed cretonne designed by Constance Irving (1879-1964) for William Foxton Ltd in the late 1920s.

Picture Caption

Madeline Linford with her colleagues at the Manchester Guardian.


Read What Readers Say

Sophie Atkinson, ‘The Mill’

Witty and devastating… a fascinating novel that hasn’t seen the light of day for almost a century… Manchester’s ‘Madame Bovary’.

Miranda Mills

Fascinating… a novel ahead of its time and quietly daring in its exploration of whether sexual attraction alone can be the mainstay of a marriage… one of the reasons I enjoyed ‘Out of the Window’ so much is because it explores many of the themes in which I have a particular interest (and which are common to many other Persephone books). Houses, and women’s role in the home, are significant in this book, and gardens and nature (or lack thereof) also play an important role in signalling class distinctions and women’s lack of freedom.

Categories: Love Story Sex Woman and Home Young Love

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