Lillian Rogers: Birmingham flaneuse

James Hinton

in Nine Wartime Lives

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199574667
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191702167 | DOI:
Lillian Rogers: Birmingham flaneuse

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This chapter focuses on wartime diarist Lillian Rogers. Lillian, wife of a garage mechanic, was the most plebeian of the nine diarists; she was also, in all understandings of the term, the most ‘modern’. She often complained of her husband's lack of ambition, and considered herself misplaced in the working-class district of Birmingham where they lived. Although she found satisfactions in her commitments as housewife and mother, she looked for a richer and fuller life. Lillian's diaries take us beyond the Victorian virtues of the older women of the time, into the open horizons of a late modernity of which, for all her peculiarities, she could stand as an exemplary pioneer. By paying attention to the links between her conventional class and gender identity, her unconventional sexual behaviour, and the untutored intellectual curiosity that led her to delve deep into herself and her world, one can glimpse the instabilities of modern selfhood and the sources of the more complicated relationship between self and multiple identities that were to explode into the cultural revolution in the 1960s and beyond.

Keywords: Lillian Rogers; wartime; diarists; Second World War; modern; modernity; class; gender

Chapter.  11225 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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