Research Seminar: Sophie Turbutt and Rachel Bogush

Sophie Turbutt and Rachel Bogush present a paper entitled: 'Between the Pages: Serialised Romance Fiction and the Model Woman in Interwar Britain and Spain'.

The archetypal interwar-era woman in Britain and Spain navigated life with greater independence and autonomy than her preceding generations. Her behaviour, morals and desires were indulged by magazines, some of which included romance fiction.

These juicy tales of seduction, dating, unfaithfulness (and even murder!) served almost as fables, which encouraged and guided her in her 'modern' adventure.

Given these stories clearly targeted women readers, at the time many thought them frivolous and forgettable.

But, as Sophie Turbutt and Rachel Bogush will explore in this talk, one interwar man's "trash" might actually be a historian's treasure.

These popular romance stories form part of important threads in women's history: from the evolution of popular literacy to shifts in everyday experiences of work, leisure and family.

Reading between the pages of some intriguing examples of popular weekly romance fiction in Britain and Spain respectively, Rachel and Sophie will dive into how these stories modelled womanhood in the interwar period. Rachel will explore some stories from the women's magazines of Middle England, and Sophie will contrast these with revolutionary anarchist romance fiction from interwar Spain.

Together, they'll make the case that far from being frivolous or trashy, we should be giving popular romance fiction the attention it has always deserved.

After the talk, there will be an opportunity to chat to the speakers, and to get up close to some original copies of popular romance stories dating back as far as the interwar period.

Event details

All are welcome to this event supported by the School of History’s Women, Gender and Sexuality research cluster.

This seminar will take place at Leeds Central Library. The room details will be confirmed when you book your place.

A wine reception will take place at 17:30, with the seminar begining at 18:00.

Please book your place using this online form (no Microsoft account required).

About the speakers

Sophie Turbutt and Rachel Bogush are PhD researchers at the University of Leeds. Sophie’s research in the School of History explores women, gender and comradeship in the Spanish anarchist movement and Rachel's research focuses on changing ideas of femininity in British women's magazines.


Binding design for Book News: publisher L. J. Veen, c. 1930. RP-T-2015-41-3375. Rijksmuseum, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.