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'Tripping daintily into the arena' : a social history of English women's athletics 1921-1960.

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Sport has been the subject of an increasing amount of academic work in recent years but few texts cover women in any great depth. The history of their participation in the twentieth century, the obstacles they faced, and the support they received, needs to be studied in detail.

This thesis addresses these questions, and contributes to the small but growing body of literature that places sporting women at the centre of research.

It is a unique piece of work, which is solely concerned with the social history of women's athletics in England, from the establishment of the sport in 1921 until 1960.

It is a common perception that few women were active in physical sports in the early twentieth century. However, this research 'has shown that that is an incorrect view.

While there were not so many women involved as men, women's athletics was a thriving sport and one that was quickly established. It will be also be argued that there was greater male support than has previously been accepted. Nevertheless, opposition remained a powerful influence, and evidence of this will be presented throughout this thesis. The research has centred on the minutes of the Women's Amateur Athletic Association.

Area association records were studied, as were some from individual athletic clubs and various committees that the WAAA was represented on. These are all resources that have not been previously analysed in detail, or indeed in some cases at all.

Oral interviews provided information about club life, competition, and why certain individuals became involved in the sport. The resources have enabled an in-depth study of both the domestic side of the sport and English women's participation at international level



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Editor's comments -  [ The above is the abstract from an original PhD thesis; the final publication in the study for the author in pursuit of a doctorate; such works result in the author being awarded a PhD and the title of Dr. by an appropriately accedited University. PhD's are the culmination of a number of years work by the author supervised by two (normally PhD or MPhil qualified) academics and, with the addition of a further appropriately qualified academic (not normally from the same University) as part of a viva-voce examination team. Successful research work at PhD level is designed to add to the body of knowledge in the study area at some level.

A PhD thesis often forms the foundation for journal articles for the author and leads to further enquiry in the form of what is called post-doctoral research. These works are characterised by comprehensive literature reviews, sometimes traditional yet multiple (and often mixed) methods, interesting if not ground breaking discussions and always directional signs toward further research; they provide for undergraduates not only a model for the possibilities for further study but a gift in terms of references in any given subject areas.

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APA reference for this document


Reference : Robinson, Lynne Elizabeth (1996) 'Tripping daintily into the arena' : a social history of English women's athletics 1921-1960. PhD thesis, University of Warwick. Available at


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PhD publications are normally published under Creative Commons Licence conditions in that you must attribute the work appropriately (use the reference above), must not distribute for commercial means and must not alter the work in any way. For a full copy of the CCL please see here. [Use of this document may be limited by © copyright ; by downloading you consent to our terms and conditions ]


Access this URL (, Lynne Elizabeth (1996) 'Tripping daintily into the arena' : a social history of English women's athletics 1921-1960. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
Last Updated on Saturday, 04 August 2012 13:14  

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