book cover of The Crowded Street

The Crowded Street

(1924)
A novel by

 
 
The theme of "The Crowded Street" is one that is familiar from other Persephone novels: it was then assumed that young women would stay at home while looking for a husband. Muriel, who believes that 'men do as they like' whereas women 'wait to see what they will do', lives in a town in Yorkshire waiting - for what? She tries to conform to the values of her snobbish, socially ambitious mother; she tries to be 'attractive' to men; and, eventually she is rescued, by her friend Delia, a young woman who is in some ways a portrait of Vera Brittain. Throughout the description of life in small-town 'Marshington', Winifred Holtby expressed her conviction that young women should be allowed to live away from home, to work, to develop as personalities away from their families, to shake off the ties that many mothers seemed to think it was their prerogative to impose on their daughters.There are other themes, too, which make the novel fascinating: parts of it are set during the First World War (in 1918 Winifred had left Oxford to serve with the WAACs in France) and it was with first-hand knowledge of war that she spent much of her short life writing and lecturing about pacifism.

Then there are the pre-Cold Comfort Farm scenes: Muriel's sister's marries a farmer's son and lives in circumstances that would, perhaps, contribute to Stella Gibbons' satirical gaze a few years hence. Although Muriel goes away to school, most of the novel describes her life waiting for life to begin, waiting for a husband."The Crowded Street" is thus about the need to withstand the tyranny of sex success. Turn and twist how you will, it comes to that in the end. This book's conclusion is that 'the thing that matters is to take your life into your own hands and live it, accepting responsibility for failure or success. The really fatal thing to do is to let other people make your choices for you, and then to blame them if your schemes should fail and they despise you for the failure'.


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Used availability for Winifred Holtby's The Crowded Street

Paperback Editions

April 2008 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Crowded Street
Author(s): Winifred Holtby
ISBN: 1-903155-66-5 / 978-1-903155-66-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


November 1981 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Crowded Street (Virago Modern Classics)
Author(s): Winifred Holtby
ISBN: 0-86068-208-0 / 978-0-86068-208-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


April 1976 : UK Paperback
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Title: Crowded Street
Author(s): Winifred Holtby
ISBN: 0-552-10121-4 / 978-0-552-10121-9 (UK edition)
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Audio Editions

August 2012 : USA Audio edition
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Title: The Crowded Street
Author(s): Winifred Holtby
Publisher: BBC
Availability: Amazon   


August 2012 : UK Audio edition
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Title: The Crowded Street
Author(s): Winifred Holtby
Publisher: BBC
Availability: Amazon UK   


Kindle Editions

August 2011 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
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Title: The Crowded Street
Author(s): Winifred Holtby
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


August 2011 : UK Kindle edition
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Title: The Crowded Street (Virago Modern Classics Book 214)
Author(s): Winifred Holtby
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon UK