'Tripping daintily into the arena' : a social history of English women's athletics 1921-1960
Sport has been the subject of an increasing amount of academic work in recent years but few texts cover women in any great depth. The history of their participation in the twentieth century, the obstacles they faced, and the support they received, needs to be studied in detail. This thesis addresses these questions, and contributes to the small but growing body of literature that places sporting women at the centre of research. It is a unique piece of work, which is solely concerned with the social history of women's athletics in England, from the establishment of the sport in 1921 until 1960. It is a common perception that few women were active in physical sports in the early twentieth century. However, this research 'has shown that that is an incorrect view. While there were not so many women involved as men, women's athletics was a thriving sport and one that was quickly established. It will be also be argued that there was greater male support than has previously been accepted. Nevertheless, opposition remained a powerful influence, and evidence of this will be presented throughout this thesis. The research has centred on the minutes of the Women's Amateur Athletic Association. Area association records were studied, as were some from individual athletic clubs and various committees that the WAAA was represented on. These are all resources that have not been previously analysed in detail, or indeed in some cases at all. Oral interviews provided information about club life, competition, and why certain individuals became involved in the sport. The resources have enabled an in-depth study of both the domestic side of the sport and English women's participation at international level.