Jun 21, 2022
A fascinating history of women’s football from early 20th century heights, through suppression, to its present-day resurgence
Suzanne Wrack argues that for women the mere act of playing football is a feminist one, a form of activism. Her book begins as a historical survey, but ends as a manifesto.
Wrack is women’s football correspondent for the Guardian and Observer. She tracks the rise of the game through the suffrage movement and the first world war, when the flow of women into workplaces carried them on to football pitches – at their peak, the famous Dick, Kerr Ladies FC attracted a crowd of 53,000. It was partly this success, and the phenomenal gate receipts passed to charities, Wrack thinks, that attracted the Football Association’s ire. In 1921, it declared football “unsuitable for females”, and banned the sport from the grounds of all affiliated clubs. “Fifty years in the wilderness” followed, in which the sport went underground. The ban was finally lifted only in 1971, which still sounds far too recent. Continue reading...
Jan 08, 2022
The Booker winner discusses work, wisdom and the drive to teach, plus seven key tips on how to write well
While George Saunders was writing his latest book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he noticed something strange. The book examines seven Russian short stories, which Saunders has taught on the creative writing course at Syracuse University, New York, for 20 years. Many writers teach, and many have a difficult relationship with teaching, but Saunders long ago “decided to not let it be like that”. He sliced his weeks into three days of teaching, four of writing, a clear division of roles. But when he started the Russian book, however, his two lives merged.
He adopted his “teaching stance” while he wrote, and was amazed by “how much fun” he had. “There’s a different sensibility when I walk into a classroom,” he says. The outward appearance is the same – “sloppy balding hippy” – but “I’m a slightly nicer and less egotistical person”. With this slightly nicer, less egotistical person at the keyboard, interesting things began to happen, and his fiction-writing self “got a real boost”. Continue reading...