The life and work of Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, with particular reference to the period 1907 to 1931
Ethel Carnie Holdsworth confronted the problems faced by the British working class in the early twentieth century in a fresh way. She believed that writing could change attitudes, and between 1907 and 1931 she endeavoured to practice that conviction through journalism, poetry and fiction in order to make her dream of a fairer society come true. Despite working in Lancashire cotton mills from 1897 when she was eleven, until the end of the First World War, she established a substantial audience for her views in the popular press and through romantic novels, and supported the impact she made in this way by verse, the use of film as propaganda, and involvement in the work of forgotten political groups like the British Citizen Party and the National Union for Combating Fascism. This study describes Ethel Carnie Holdsworth's experiments in mass communication and it assesses the influence she had on contemporary debates about the meaning of freedom in the 1910s and 1920s. In doing so it reveals new perspectives on the position of women in society, on the attempts of the Labour movement to improve the lot of the working class, and on the fight against fascism. The argument made here is that an understanding of early twentieth century political history is revised and enriched by the incorporation of an unusual working-class voice which is expressed in forms that give Ethel Carnie Holdsworth's work an immediacy and difference. It is presented here as a biography because the circumstances she had to overcome make her effort worthy of celebration, and her achievement a rare and valuable commentary on her times.