HOLDSWORTH, Ethel Carnie.

This Slavery.

London: The Labour Publishing Company, 1925 Stock Code: 130069
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A rare survival of this Marxist-feminist tale

First edition in book form, first impression, a rare survival of Holdsworth's best-known work, "a combination of Marxist-feminist rhetoric and adaptation of the popular rags-to-riches romance" (Goodridge & Keegan, p. 324). It first appeared in print as a serialisation in The Daily Herald (October 1923) and, like all of Holdsworth's fiction, was published in cheap book editions so as to be accessible to her intended audiencehence the fragile nature of the dust jacket and thin paper stock. WorldCat locates copies in just twelve institutions worldwide (four in both the UK and US, two in New Zealand, and one apiece in Australia and Ireland).

This Slavery observes the lives of two Lancashire working-class sisters from a family of cotton weavers, Rachel and Hester Martin, and draws clear parallels between the slavery experienced by the working classes and the "new slavery, a new servitude" of marriage (p. 138). Rachel, an avid devotee of Marx, Paine, and Morris, grapples with an identity crisis after discovering the true circumstances of her birth and Hester, denounced as an "Ambassadress of Capital" (p. 139) after marrying a local yarn agent and thus betraying her class, is shot by police during a riot while trying to pacify an angry crowd.

Though much-neglected in scholarship, Ethel Carnie Holdsworth (1886-1962) is likely "one of the earliest published British working-class woman novelists" (Goodridge & Keegan, p. 325); she also published poetry collections about her experiences working as a winder at the local mill and edited and produced the anti-fascist journal The Clear Light during the 1920s.

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Octavo. Original green cloth, spine lettered in black, publisher's device to front board in blind. With dust jacket.


Previous gift inscription to front free endpaper, now erased. Spine slightly slanted, ends and corners bruised, 20 mm split to cloth at foot of rear joint, some very faint browning to board edges, else a very good copy, contents toned, in the good only dust jacket, browned, with loss and chipping to extremities, and tape repairs to verso.


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