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Elizabeth Wilson - Author

About the Author

An independent researcher and writer best known for her commentaries on feminism and popular culture, Elizabeth Wilson is currently Visiting Professor at the London College of Fashion. She is the author of several non-fiction books. Her novel The Twilight Hour is also published by Serpent’s Tail.

‘My family was involved in running the British Empire in increasingly lowly positions sliding slowly down the social scale. They felt quite dislocated after WW II and my mother led a very marginal existence. Perhaps because of this she had me educated at St Paul’s Girls’ School, where I encountered a completely different world of the Jewish and non Jewish intelligentsia, and then at Oxford. Possibly because of the discrepancy between home background and sophisticated educational milieu I was extremely rebellious. I trained as a psychiatric social worker because of an interest in psychoanalysis, but throughout 10 years working in the field I was repelled by its conservative ethos and morality and eventually escaped to a polytechnic. But this time I was involved in Gay Liberation and the Women’s Movement, which defined the 1970s for me. In the 1980s I became a lesbian co-parent and later a parent governor at Camden School for Girls. Beginning in the mid-70s I wrote a number of polemical/academic works about women, and then shifted into an interest in fashion and dress (I am currently Visiting Professor at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London). For some years I was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, but am now a Green Party member. I am currently working on another novel and also on a book about the necessity of atheism.’

Featured books by Elizabeth Wilson

Other books by Elizabeth Wilson

Shostakovich A Life Remembered - Second Edition

Shostakovich A Life Remembered - Second Edition

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/10/2018

Shostakovich: A Life Remembered is a unique study of the great composer Dmitri Shostakovich, based on reminiscences from his contemporaries. Elizabeth Wilson covers the composer's life from his early successes to his struggles under the Stalinist regime, and his international recognition as one of the leading composers of the twentieth century. She builds up a detailed picture of Shostakovich's creative processes, how he was perceived by contemporaries, and of the increased contrast between his private life and public image as his fame increased. This new edition, produced to coincide with the centenary of Shostakovich's birth, draws on many new writings on the composer. In doing so, it provides both a more detailed and focused image of Shostakovich's life and a wider view of his cultural background. In particular, Shostakovich's sardonic and witty sense of humor reveals itself in many of his letters to close friends. Shostakovich offers fascinating insight into the complex personality and musical life of this great composer, and examines his position as one of the major figures in the cultural life of twentieth-century Russia.

Women and the Welfare State

Women and the Welfare State

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/08/2017

Women and the Welfare State approaches the question of welfare policy from an entirely fresh perspective. In it the author argues that an appreciation of the way in which women are defined by welfare policies, and have been since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, is essential to a true understanding of the nature of those policies and of the Welfare State. An important, possible the most important, function of welfare policy has been to promote and retain a particular form of the family; indeed, one can define the Welfare State as the State organization of domestic life. To illustrate her arguments the author looks at the development of State welfare intervention from the early nineteenth century to the present day and relates it to the changing position of women, children, and of the family. The traditional Marxist view is modified by a theory of the position of women and by relating changing welfare policies and beliefs about welfare both to the women s movements of the past century and to the ideas and theories of the contemporary Women s Liberation Movement. In her approach Elizabeth Wilson argues uniquely among writers on the Welfare State for an emphasis on the ideology of welfare.

She Died Young

She Died Young

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/03/2017

London, 1956. A young woman has been found dead in a hotel in King's Cross. It looks like an accident, and Scotland Yard isn't interested in accidents. But Fleet Street journalist Gerry Blackstone reckons there's more to it than meets the eye. Meanwhile, Oxford is filling with Hungarian emigres fleeing the failed revolution. Special Branch, concerned there could be Soviet spies among the genuine refugees, send in DCI Jack McGovern to keep an eye on proceedings. As McGovern plays spycatcher in Oxford and Blackstone hunts for clues in the seedy corners of London, a complex web of rogues, schemers and potential suspects starts to emerge: the well-to-do madam, the Classics professor, the East London crime boss, the government minister ... does it all lead back to the dead girl in King's Cross? Or is there something even more sinister going on?

She Died Young

She Died Young

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/03/2016

London, 1956. A young woman has been found dead in a hotel in King's Cross. Broke her neck falling down stairs, the death certificate says. But Fleet Street journalist Gerry Blackstone thinks there's more to it than meets the eye. Scotland Yard's not interested in accidental deaths - if that's what this is. But maybe he can convince Special Branch's DCI Jack McGovern to investigate. Fortunately for Blackstone, McGovern needs his help. The new Superintendent wants to sweep out corrupt officers, and McGovern's his broom. If Blackstone can keep news of the investigation out of the press, McGovern stands a chance of finding the bent cop. Meanwhile, Oxford is filling with Hungarian emigres fleeing the failed revolution. With the memories of Burgess and Maclean's defection still raw, Special Branch is concerned that there could be Soviet spies among the genuine refugees and wants McGovern on-hand to keep an eye out. As McGovern carries out his casework in Oxford and Blackstone investigates behind the scenes in London, clues start to emerge that, somehow, this might all be linked. The deeper they look, the more unrelated characters with shady pasts start to complicate the picture: the well-to-do madam, the Classics Professor, the East London crime boss, the Oxford doctoral student, the fiery Hungarian immigrant, the government minister ... does it all lead back to the dead girl in King's Cross? Or is there something even more sinister going on?

Love Game A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon

Love Game A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/05/2015

Tennis's gladiatorial beauty, its stylish duelling and fashionable court-wear make it a romantic's dream. Ever since young men and women first came together to play on vicarage lawns, this most Victorian of games has always had a peculiarly passionate undercurrent - love even makes it into the scoring system. And passion in other forms - the rivalry of Federer and Nadal, and John McEnroe's legendary angry outbursts. Beyond the romance, tennis has always been a barometer of the times. French star Suzanne Lenglen was a celebrity trailblazer, Jimmy Connors channelled punk, and Henman Hill is unrecognisable from the days when the All England Club ostracised working-class Fred Perry - and the great English tennis champion who is now more famous as a leisure clothing brand than a sportsman. Love Game is the must-have companion for tennis fans during Wimbledon 2015. It tells the story of tennis' journey from upper-middle-class hobby to global TV spectacle, taking in the innovators and trendsetters, the great players, heroes and iconoclasts, and the politics, class wars and culture clashes of what could rightfully be called the 'beautiful game'.

Cultural Passions Fans, Aesthetes and Tarot Readers

Cultural Passions Fans, Aesthetes and Tarot Readers

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/06/2013

Elizabeth Wilson is one of our most radical cultural critics. In Cultural Passions she transcends the division between 'high' and 'low' culture, exploring the emotional commitment people bring to the books, performances, objects and rituals in which they find meaning and challenging an enduring suspicion of the pleasure of the aesthetic. Ranging from Marcel Proust to tarot readings, from urban planning to interiors, Elizabeth Wilson investigates an underlying Puritanism in critical commentary on matters as wide ranging as Roger Federer and C S Lewis, Surrealism and fashion and the relationship of religion to fan culture. She questions why pleasure appears suspect, even as consumer society incites it and turns life into entertainment. She questions why there is such fear of elitism when at the same time the fans of mass culture are held in contempt. Subverting conventional views, her oblique point of view provides startling insights on both familiar and marginal cultural experiences.

Cultural Passions Fans, Aesthetes and Tarot Readers

Cultural Passions Fans, Aesthetes and Tarot Readers

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/06/2013

Elizabeth Wilson is one of our most radical cultural critics. In Cultural Passions she transcends the division between 'high' and 'low' culture, exploring the emotional commitment people bring to the books, performances, objects and rituals in which they find meaning and challenging an enduring suspicion of the pleasure of the aesthetic. Ranging from Marcel Proust to tarot readings, from urban planning to interiors, Elizabeth Wilson investigates an underlying Puritanism in critical commentary on matters as wide ranging as Roger Federer and C S Lewis, Surrealism and fashion and the relationship of religion to fan culture. She questions why pleasure appears suspect, even as consumer society incites it and turns life into entertainment. She questions why there is such fear of elitism when at the same time the fans of mass culture are held in contempt. Subverting conventional views, her oblique point of view provides startling insights on both familiar and marginal cultural experiences.

Chifa Chi's Little Adventure in Nevis

Chifa Chi's Little Adventure in Nevis

Author: Elizabeth Wilson, Luis de los Heros Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/06/2013

Chifa Chi is an active little girl that travels to St Kitts & Nevis to help her friend Coco find her family. With the help of friendly animals she meets along the way she finds her way through the island of Nevis while making friends! This is the sequel to her previous adventures in Washington DC,New York City and Cuzco & Machu Picchu.

The Girl in Berlin

The Girl in Berlin

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/05/2013

Summer, 1951. Two suspected spies, Burgess and Maclean, have disappeared, and the nation is obsessed with their whereabouts. Speculation is at fever pitch when Colin Harris, a member of the Communist Party who has been in Germany for several years, turns up to see his old friends Dinah and Alan Wentworth. He has news: he has fallen in love with a girl in East Berlin, and is coming home - with her - for good. Meanwhile, Jack McGovern, who sometimes feels like the only decent man in Special Branch, has a rendezvous with a real spy. Miles Kingdom thinks there's a mole at MI5, and he wants McGovern's help. A novel about secrets, betrayal and unearthing the truth, The Girl in Berlin is a reminder that when nothing is as it seems, no-one can be trusted - even those you think you know best.

Spatial Planning and Climate Change

Spatial Planning and Climate Change

Author: Elizabeth Wilson, Jake Piper Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/08/2010

Spatial planning has a vital role to play in the move to a low carbon energy future and in adapting to climate change. To do this, spatial planning must develop and implement new approaches. Elizabeth Wilson and Jake Piper explore a wide range of issues in this comprehensive book on the relationship between our changing climate and spatial planning, and suggest ways of addressing the challenges by taking a longer-sighted approach to our preparation for the future. This text includes: an overview of what we know already about future climate change and its impacts, as we attempt both to adapt to these changes and to reduce the emissions which cause them the role of spatial planning in relation to climate change, offering some theoretical and political explanations for the challenges that planning faces in the coming decades a review of policy and legislation at international, EU and UK levels in regard to climate change, and the support this gives to the planning system case studies detailing what responses the UK and the Netherlands have made so far in light of the evidence ways to help new and existing urban developments to reduce energy use and to adapt to climate change, through strengthening the relationships between urban and rural areas to avoid water shortage, floods or loss of biodiversity. The authors take an evidence-based look at this hugely important topic, providing a well-illustrated text for spatial planning professionals, politicians and the interested public, as well as a useful reference for postgraduate planning, geography, urban studies, urban design and environmental studies students.

Spatial Planning and Climate Change

Spatial Planning and Climate Change

Author: Elizabeth Wilson, Jake Piper Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/08/2010

Spatial planning has a vital role to play in the move to a low carbon energy future and in adapting to climate change. To do this, spatial planning must develop and implement new approaches. Elizabeth Wilson and Jake Piper explore a wide range of issues in this comprehensive book on the relationship between our changing climate and spatial planning, and suggest ways of addressing the challenges by taking a longer-sighted approach to our preparation for the future. This text includes: an overview of what we know already about future climate change and its impacts, as we attempt both to adapt to these changes and to reduce the emissions which cause them the role of spatial planning in relation to climate change, offering some theoretical and political explanations for the challenges that planning faces in the coming decades a review of policy and legislation at international, EU and UK levels in regard to climate change, and the support this gives to the planning system case studies detailing what responses the UK and the Netherlands have made so far in light of the evidence ways to help new and existing urban developments to reduce energy use and to adapt to climate change, through strengthening the relationships between urban and rural areas to avoid water shortage, floods or loss of biodiversity. The authors take an evidence-based look at this hugely important topic, providing a well-illustrated text for spatial planning professionals, politicians and the interested public, as well as a useful reference for postgraduate planning, geography, urban studies, urban design and environmental studies students.

Bohemians The Glamorous Outcasts

Bohemians The Glamorous Outcasts

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/02/2009

Since the early 19th century, the bohemian has been the protagonist of the story the West has wanted to hear about its artists - a story of genius, glamour, and doom. This book analyzes the many shifting meanings that constitute bohemia and the bohemian. With a huge cast of real-life characters, from Chatterton to Jackson Pollock to Augustus John, she explores the bohemians eccentric use of dress, the role of sex and erotic love, the quest for excess, and their intransigent politics. She demonstrates how, rather than disappearing from Western culture, bohemia is at the core of the most heated cultural debates at the end of the second millennium.

Rostropovich The Musical Life of the Great Cellist, Teacher, and Legend

Rostropovich The Musical Life of the Great Cellist, Teacher, and Legend

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/11/2007

When renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich died less than a year ago at the age of eighty, the world lost not only an extraordinary musician but an accomplished conductor, an outsize personality, and a courageous human being. It is not an exaggeration to say that the history of the cello in the twentieth century would be unthinkable without the name of Mstislav Rostropovich, writes Elizabeth Wilson. He has seemed to me like a personification of the cello itself. Ms. Wilson, a former student of Slava and the acclaimed biographer of both Shostakovich and Jacqueline du Pre, has written the definitive biography of the master. Rostropovich teems with entertaining anecdotes and therefore brings the reader as close as one can get to the method and psychology of Rostropovich's playing and teaching.

Mstislav Rostropovich: Cellist, Teacher, Legend

Mstislav Rostropovich: Cellist, Teacher, Legend

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/04/2007

Published to coincide with Rostropovich's 80th birthday celebrations Mstislav Rostropovich, internationally recognised as one of the world's finest cellists and musicians, has always maintained that teaching is an important responsibility for great artists. Before his emigration in 1974 from Russia to the West, Rostropovich taught several generations of the brightest Russian talents - as Professor of the Moscow Conservatoire - over a continuous period of two decades. His students included such artists as Jacqueline du Pre, Nataliyia Gutman, Karine Georgian, Ivan Monighetti and many others Rostropovich's teaching represented not only his individual approach to cello repertoire and instrumental technique, but also comprised a philosophy of life. As soon as he returned from his frequent concert tours, he would launch himself with whirlwind energy into his teaching activities. His lessons, which were conducted as open masterclasses , were awaited eagerly as an event of huge importance. Class 19 of the Moscow Conservatoire, where they were held, was usually packed with students (violinists , conductors and pianists as well as cellists). Often other professors dropped in, as did visiting musicians. The lessons were performances in themselves: Rostropovich - usually seated at the piano - cajoled and inspired his students to give the best of themselves. His comments went far beyond correcting the students in making them understand the essence of the work they were playing. Often this was done through striking imagery, and as such the lessons were addressed to the wider audience present in the classroom as well as to the individual student. Drawing from her own vivid reminiscences and those of ex-students, documents from the Moscow Conservatoire and extensive interviews with Rostropovich himself , Elizabeth Wilson's book sets out to define his teaching, and to recapture the atmosphere of the conservatoire and Moscow's musical life.

Shostakovich: A Life Remembered

Shostakovich: A Life Remembered

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/07/2006

Shostakovich: A Life Remembered is a unique study of the great composer Dmitri Shostakovich, based on reminiscences from his contemporaries: family members, friends, fellow musicians and other prominent figures of the time. Elizabeth Wilson covers the composer's life from his early successes to his struggles under the Stalinist regime, and his international recognition as one of the leading composers of the 20th century. She builds up a detailed picture of Shostakovich's creative processes, how he was perceived by contemporaries and of the increased contrast between his private life and public image as his fame increased. This revised edition, produced to coincide with the centenary of Shostakovich's birth, draws on many new writings on the composer. This provides both a more detailed and focused image of Shostakovich's life, and a wider view of his cultural background. A particular aspect of Shostakovich which is revealed in this new edition is his sardonic and witty sense of humour, displayed in many of his letters to close friends. Shostakovich: A Life Remembered provides fascinating insight into the complex personality and the musical life of this great composer, and examines his position as one of the major figures of cultural life in 20th century Russia.

Adorned in Dreams Fashion and Modernity

Adorned in Dreams Fashion and Modernity

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/09/2003

When Adorned in Dreams was first published in 1985, Angela Carter described the book as 'the best I have read on the subject, bar none'. Elizabeth Wilson traces the social and cultural history of fashion and its complex relationship to modernity. Wilson delights in the power of fashion to mark out identity or to subvert it and this brand new edition of her book follows recent developments to bring the story of fashionable dress up to date, exploring the grunge look inspired by bands like Nirvana, the 'boho chic' of the mid 90's, retro-dressing and the meanings of dress from the veil to Beck's pink-varnished toenails.

The Contradictions of Culture Cities, Culture, Women

The Contradictions of Culture Cities, Culture, Women

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/12/2000

In this book, one of the most accomplished and thoughtful cultural commentators of the day, considers the contradictory nature of cultural relations. Elizabeth Wilson explores these themes through an examination of fashion, feminism, consumer culture, representation and postmodernism. Debates within feminism on the nature and effects of pornography are used to illustrate a particular kind of cultural contradiction. Wilson recognizes that postmodernism permitted the reappropriation of subjects that were not previously considered worthy of attention, or opposed to the idea of emancipation, chief among these was fashion. She shows that the association of an interest in this culturally significant subject with a revisionist project raises doubts about the coherence of postmodernism itself.

The Contradictions of Culture Cities, Culture, Women

The Contradictions of Culture Cities, Culture, Women

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 14/12/2000

In this book, one of the most accomplished and thoughtful cultural commentators of the day, considers the contradictory nature of cultural relations. Elizabeth Wilson explores these themes through an examination of fashion, feminism, consumer culture, representation and postmodernism. Debates within feminism on the nature and effects of pornography are used to illustrate a particular kind of cultural contradiction. Wilson recognizes that postmodernism permitted the reappropriation of subjects that were not previously considered worthy of attention, or opposed to the idea of emancipation, chief among these was fashion. She shows that the association of an interest in this culturally significant subject with a revisionist project raises doubts about the coherence of postmodernism itself.

Jacqueline du Pre

Jacqueline du Pre

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/10/1999

Authorized by du Pre's husband, Daniel Barenboim, this is the fullest account yet of the life of the brilliant cellist, struck down in her prime by multiple sclerosis. Charting her career from her early identification with the sound of the cello, through her debut at sixteen to the achievement of international stardom by her early twenties, Elizabeth Wilson examines the origins and nature of Jackie's prodigious talent - having talked to nearly everyone in musical circles who knew her well - and assesses her lasting importance as an interpreter. She describes her transformation from coltish girl to woman, and her marriage to the brilliant Daniel Barenboim, concluding with a sensitive account of du Pre's decline, when, no longer able to play, she struggled bravely against the ravages of her illness, until her death in 1987.

The Sphinx in the City Urban Life, the Control of Disorder and Women

The Sphinx in the City Urban Life, the Control of Disorder and Women

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/03/1992

Elizabeth Wilson's elegant, provocative, and scholarly study uses fiction, essays, film, and art, as well as history and sociology, to look at some of the world's greatest cities - London, Paris, Moscow, New York, Chicago, Lusaka, and Sao Paulo - and presents a powerful critique of utopian planning, anti-urbanism, postmodernism, and traditional architecture. For women the city offers freedom, including sexual freedom, but also new dangers. Planners and reformers have repeatedly attempted to regulate women - and the working class and ethnic minorities - by means of grandiose, utopian plans, nearly destroying the richness of urban culture. City centers have become uninhabited business districts, the countryside suburbanized. There is danger without pleasure, consumerism without choice, safety without stimulation. What is needed is a new understanding of city life and Wilson gives us an intriguing introduction to what this might be.

Women and the Welfare State

Women and the Welfare State

Author: Elizabeth Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/04/1977

Women and the Welfare State approaches the question of welfare policy from an entirely fresh perspective. In it the author argues that an appreciation of the way in which women are defined by welfare policies, and have been since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, is essential to a true understanding of the nature of those policies and of the Welfare State. An important, possible the most important, function of welfare policy has been to promote and retain a particular form of the family; indeed, one can define the Welfare State as the State organization of domestic life. To illustrate her arguments the author looks at the development of State welfare intervention from the early nineteenth century to the present day and relates it to the changing position of women, children, and of the family. The traditional Marxist view is modified by a theory of the position of women and by relating changing welfare policies and beliefs about welfare both to the women's movements of the past century and to the ideas and theories of the contemporary Women's Liberation Movement. In her approach Elizabeth Wilson argues - uniquely among writers on the Welfare State - for an emphasis on the ideology of welfare.

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http://www.elizabethwilson.net/

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