Time and Tide: Connections and Legacies by Dr Eleanor Reed

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Dr. Eleanor Reed

As the Dinner Puzzle continues to attract contributions from researchers and family members, we are delighted that we now can publish this celebratory piece by Dr Eleanor Reed, Project Officer, of the new project at Nottingham Trent University, under the direction of Dr Cathy Clay, author of Time and Tide: The Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine.  In addition they are kindly hosting a blog by me on the Dinner Puzzle.

Their new project celebrates the centenary of the launch of Time and Tide, and not surprisingly there are strong links with the dinner puzzle attendees!  They even have created a special Souvenir Edition of Time and Tide. And like us, they are connecting up with the 21st century relatives.  Networking over Time!  Richard

Now let Eleanor tell you more:

‘As I glanced at those who came to dine at the Rembrandt this evening in honour of Lady Rhondda, I found it difficult to make a mental list of the famous women who were not present. All seemed to be there,’ wrote a Nottingham Herald correspondent of the dinner party so vividly revived on this intriguing website. The guest list of that party confirms that it was a real Who’s Who event, attended by some of the biggest literary and political celebrities of the day. Some guests, such as Cicely Hamilton, Rebecca West, and E. M. Delafield, have retained their celebrity, amongst enthusiasts of interwar feminism and women’s writing in particular. Others, including Helen Archdale, Theodora Bosanquet, and Professor Winifred Cullis, are now largely – sadly – forgotten. Closely researched, compellingly imagined, Richard’s portraits of these once-famous figures and their (probable) preoccupations that night do much to give them the recognition they deserve. Launched in July 2020, the Time and Tide: Connections and Legacies’ project website pursues very similar goals. In this blog post, I want to explore where and how I think these websites connect.

Time and Tide at 100

First however, some context. Run from Nottingham Trent University by Dr Catherine Clay (Director) and myself, ‘Time and Tide: Connections and Legacies’ is a year-long project, publicising the interwar history of the long-running and influential feminist magazine Time and Tide. Founded in 1920 by Lady Rhondda, guest of honour at the puzzling dinner party, this weekly review of politics and the arts was the only woman-controlled publication of its kind, competitive with the New Statesman. Time and Tide hosted contributions from many of the period’s leading political and literary figures, among them Vera Brittain, Winifred Holtby, Sylvia Lynd, Rebecca West, and Eleanor Farjeon. During the interwar decades the magazine was a beacon for feminism, a platform for women’s writing, and – as a leading ‘journal of opinion – offered perspectives on international as well as national politics from many of the most significant feminist thinkers and public intellectuals of the day.

Souvenir Edition and Key Biographies

The most obvious connection between The Dinner Puzzle and Time and Tide projects is our mutual interest in bringing to life the magazine’s fascinating contributors. Like this website, ours hosts newly-written illustrated biographies of some of the Key Figures who directed and/or edited the magazine: Lady Rhondda, Helen Archdale, Rebecca West, Cicely Hamilton, Winifred Holtby, E. M. Delafield, Theodora Bosanquet, Professor Winifred Cullis, and Sylvia Lynd, women with whom visitors to this website may be familiar. Foregrounding their contributions to Time and Tide, some of which are showcased in a downloadable Souvenir Edition of the magazine, these biographies work the publication into an intriguing network of literary and political personalities, whose commitments to feminist, internationalist, and socialist causes shaped its outlook and output. Famous in their day, these figures deserve to be much better-known in ours, and we hope that these biographies will revive interest in their characters, achievements, and contributions to interwar literature and politics. Throughout 2020, new biographies will introduce more of the inspiring personalities behind Time and Tide, restoring more fascinating but forgotten figures.

The personal connections

A less immediately obvious, but equally important connection between our websites is our approach to researching these individuals. Appropriately, given our mutual interest in uncovering Time and Tide personalities’ friendship and professional networks, this approach draws on personal connections. In his blog post for our website, Richard offers some insights into his research process, which, inspired by a document he inherited from his grandfather, involves seeking out relatives of dinner party guests and inviting them to explore their own family archives, in hopes of discovering hitherto forgotten material. Showcasing information yielded by these personal connections, which brings the dinner party guests so vividly to life, this website is a glowing testament to this ‘grassroots’ approach to research. Like Richard, we are seeking out Time and Tide contributors’ present-day networks. Our newest biography, of Sylvia Lynd, was written by its subject’s great granddaughter, Lydia Syson, who met Catherine, quite serendipitously, on a Time and Tide ‘history walk’ around London that Catherine led in 2019. When Catherine invited Lydia to write Sylvia’s biography, she responded with the exciting news that she had just received a box of Sylvia’s papers, amongst which were photographs of Sylvia taken during her Time and Tide days, and an unsigned Time and Tide Christmas card featuring a drawing of the magazine’s Bloomsbury office. One of these photographs illustrates Sylvia’s biography, and the drawing is a star attraction of our timeline of Time and Tide’s interwar history. Like Richard, we invite visitors to our website to contact us, in hopes that we might develop Time and Tide’s present-day networks further, and uncover yet more information about the personalities behind the magazine.

In her piece ‘Reviving Lady Rhondda’ on this website, Professor Angela V. John refers to Time and Tide’s founder as a Hidden Heroine: a woman whose contributions to her society and culture have yet to be properly recognised. The same could be said for Time and Tide’s other producers, many of whom were among the ‘famous women’ who applauded Rhondda at the dinner party held in her name. Please visit and share timeandtidemagazine.org, and help us restore these monumental figures to their full stature.