|dc.description.abstract||This thesis is a study of the history of women’s cricket from the 1880s until 1939. Although the primary focus of this thesis is the interwar years, it explores the earliest forms of women’s cricket to provide context for the motivation of individuals to promote the game as acceptable for women, and of those who denounced its suitability. By exploring societal concerns over correct masculine and feminine behaviour and ideals, this thesis provides insight into the methods that contemporaries adopted to contrast these restrictions.
Through a detailed examination of local newspapers and archival sources, this thesis investigates the reactions by society to the concept of women playing what was hitherto seen as a masculine sport. In particular it examines the relationship not only between the women and men who organised cricket on a national scale, but between middle- and working- class women and how class played an equally important role as gender as a restricting influence on opportunities for working-class women to participate in leisure. As a consequence, this thesis will demonstrate the willingness of working-class women to participate in physical activities when given the opportunity, either through their male counterparts, or the workplace.
Although academic work on the history of women’s sport is an expanding field, little attention has been paid to specific team games, with the exception of football. Similarly, research on women’s sport has primarily focused on women of the upper- and middle-classes, with the activities of working-class women being largely overlooked. This thesis aims to expand our knowledge of women’s cricket by not only providing a detailed examination of the national sporting organisations, but also to redress the knowledge gaps surrounding the participation in sport by working-class women.||en