Hannah Gavron

Hannah Gavron (Hebrew: חנה גברון‎; born Anne Fyvel; 1936 – 14 December 1965) was a Mandatory Palestine-born British sociologist.

Life and workEdit

Hannah Fyvel was born in British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel) in 1936, the daughter of Mary (Kirschner), who was from South Africa, and T. R. Fyvel, the left-wing Zionist who eventually became the literary editor of Tribune and a friend of the writer George Orwell.[1] Although always called Hannah privately and professionally, she was registered at birth as Anne.[2] Aged 16, she became a student at the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts (RADA).[2]

In 1955 she married Robert Gavron, who would become a Labour peer, barrister and printer, but who had then only just started training in printing, having eschewed a legal career for the time being (the same year he married Hannah, he been called to the bar after graduating from the University of Oxford).[3] Shortly after marrying, Gavron graduated from RADA but stayed in education; she went to Bedford College, University of London, where she remained for eight years, firstly to study sociology as an undergraduate (she received a first-class degree) and then to complete a doctorate,[2][4] which was awarded in 1964 for a thesis on "The position and opportunities of young mothers: progression or retrogression: a study of the difficulties confronting young mothers in the contemporary family based on a comparative study of working class and middle class families".[5] After completing her doctorate, Gavron took up a lectureship at Hornsey School of Art.[6] On 14 December 1965, she locked herself in her neighbour's kitchen, switched on its gas oven and committed suicide.[4]

The year after her death, Gavron's thesis was published as The Captive Wife, which is cited as an early example of the emergent British feminist literature and a noted early sociological study on women and work.[1][7] It was a qualitative sociological analysis of narrative accounts of working- and middle-class married women's lives, and has been called one of the "classic examples of feminist interpretation of housework".[8] She argued that women tended to leave paid work after childbirth and that motherhood stripped women of independence, bringing their values and aspirations as 'New' women into conflict with the traditional role they were having to play as mothers.[7] In the view of Helen McCarthy, this study meant that Fyvel (Gavron) was one of a number of researchers in the 1950s and early 1960s (such as Nancy Seear, Viola Klein, Ferdynand Zweig, Judith Hubback and Pearl Jephcott) who "helped to entrench new understandings of married women's employment as a fundamental feature of advanced industrial societies, and one that solved the dilemmas of 'modern' woman across social classes."[9] In 1990, Ann Oakley wrote that Gavron was an "optimistic pioneer of modern feminism" who "stood as a role model for many of us, trying to make our way in the male-dominated world of social science. She even at times appears in the guise of a cultural metaphor à la Sylvia Plath and many others – a woman torn apart by her position on the edge of time, by those same dilemmas of being female which form the subject matter of her work and writing".[10] In 2015, Gavron's son Jeremy published his memoirs of her, A Woman on The Edge of Time,[6] which was the 15 Minute Drama on BBC Radio 4 in June 2019.[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Helen McCarthy, "Social Science and Married Women’s Employment in Post-War Britain", Past and Present, vol. 233, no. 1 (2016), p. 280.
  2. ^ a b c "'Tell the boys I loved them'", The Guardian, 4 April 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Lord Gavron – obituary", The Telegraph, 8 February 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b Philip Maughan, "Hannah Gavron: a woman ahead of her time", New Statesman, 12 November 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  5. ^ "The position and opportunities of young mothers: progression or retrogression: a study of the difficulties confronting young mothers in the contemporary family based on a comparative study of working class and middle class families", EthOS (British Library). Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b Cooke, Rachel (1 November 2015). "Jeremy Gavron: 'My mother was a woman who looked for solutions. Suicide was a solution'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b Mary Eagleton and Emma Parker, The History of British Women's Writing, 1970–present, vol. 10 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), p. 115.
  8. ^ Steel, Liz; Kidd, Warren; Brown, Anne (2012). The Family. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 71. ISBN 9780230369832.
  9. ^ Helen McCarthy, "Social Science and Married Women’s Employment in Post-War Britain", Past and Present, vol. 233, no. 1 (2016), p. 270.
  10. ^ Ann Oakley, "Optimistic pioneer of modern feminism", The Observer, 29 August 1990, p. 33.
  11. ^ Dramatized by: Sarah Daniels; Director: Emma Harding (10 June 2019). "A Woman on the Edge of Time". 15 Minute Drama. BBC. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 14 June 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

Further readingEdit