“Too recent to be innocuous”: An Interwar View of Women’s Suffrage in Edith Ayrton Zangwill’s The Call

Stephanie J. Brown, University of Arizona
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring 2017), 45-73

This article examines the political and economic contexts driving Edith Ayrton Zangwill’s narrative of women’s professional work, the war effort, and the end of the women’s suffrage movement in her 1924 novel The Call. In The Call, Ayrton Zangwill revisits prewar equality feminism’s concerns as a response to the relatively circumscribed difference feminism of the postwar years. While the existing scholarship on The Call treats the novel either as a belated artifact of the suffrage movement or as a “women in the professions” novel, this article attends to the economic contexts that bridge these genres and provides a reading of the ways in which The Call strategically registers the differences between the lives of women in the years it depicts and at the time of its composition. It also situates the novel in the context of recent periodical studies of the “modern woman” in order to demonstrate how Ayrton Zangwill’s particular professional woman offers a nuanced corrective to the glossier version of the ideal that appeared in women’s magazines of the postwar years.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]