‘Manless Climbing’

Breaking into the masculine public sphere of the interwar years.

Una Marson broadcasting to British troops in the West Indies from a London theatre, February 1942 © Getty Images.

Shiela Grant Duff was 21 and fresh out of university when she witnessed the violence that followed the Saar plebiscite in 1935. ‘The Nazis can tell their enemies by their eyes’, she wrote in her report for the Observer, warning of the German people’s growing support for Nazi brutality. By the time that war broke out, Grant Duff had become one of the world’s foremost experts on Czechoslovakia. She never forgot that in 1934 the editor of The Times had turned her down as foreign correspondent, suggesting that she might send the paper some ‘fashion notes’ from the Continent instead. 

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