‘The big romance’: Winifred Holtby and the fictionalisation of women's cinemagoing in interwar Yorkshire

Lisa Stead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores fictive accounts of women’s cinemagoing in Winifred Holtby’s middlebrow interwar literature. The article looks at the ways in which Holtby’s writing engaged with notions of female self-fashioning in relation to screen fictions through her novels The Crowded Street (1924) and South Riding: an English land- scape (1936). More specifically, the article explores how Holtby’s novels present a con- sideration of cinema’s influence upon women’s lives and selfhoods as mediated through local and regional contexts of reception in her descriptions of rural and urban Yorkshire. The article begins by examining the practice of cinemagoing for women in Yorkshire during the interwar years, and moves to explore the contribution of cinema to cultural representations of femininity in this period, considering the ways in which Holtby used middlebrow fiction to actively critique cinema’s more negative representations, whilst shaping a defence of women and cinema more generally within British interwar modernity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-776
Number of pages18
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number5
Early online date27 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • cinema going
  • women's writing
  • fiction
  • interwar
  • middlebrow

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