By Jean E. Kennard
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Extra resources for Vera Brittain & Winifred Holtby: a working partnership
Several of these womenRebecca West, Storm Jameson, Phyllis Bentley, Hilda Reid, Beatrice Kean Seymour, for examplewere personal friends, many of them fellow Somervillians. Together with these women and others, Brittain and Holtby, I suggest, continued a tradition of English fiction exemplified by George Eliot. Conscious of the connection and deeply admiring of Eliot, they referred to her frequently in letters and other nonfiction prose. 90 The tradition that "played out its possibilities for males" still offers a vital form for women, claim Elizabeth Abel, Marianne Hirsch, and Elizabeth Langland.
Certainly there is no written evidence that I am aware of for a physical relationship between Brittain and Holtby, though I do wonder whether, given Brittain's anxiety on the subject, one could reasonably expect there to be at this time. It is also true that when Brittain and Holtby talk about sexual experience in private letters there is a clear implication that physical love means heterosexual sex. " 29 On the other hand, the terms of address between Brittain and Holtby are terms more characteristic even at that time of an erotic relationship.
39 Brittain defines her own school, St. "40 Even her history teacher, Miss Heath Jones, an "ardent but always discreet feminist,"41 who lent her books and took the girls to a suffrage meeting, gave them cuttings from newspapers but never the whole newspaper. "42 It is hardly surprising, then, that those women who wanted careers even after 1918 felt the need to reconcile their ambitions with social good. Both Brittain and Holtby felt this need, but because, like other women of their generation, they were no longer content to choose between marriage and work but claimed the right to both, their challenge to the sexual division of labor and thus to society as a whole was more fundamental than that of their college-educated predecessors.