Britain’s Olympic Women: A History

1st Edition

Jean Williams

July 13, 2020 Forthcoming
Reference - 344 Pages - 21 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780367473211 - CAT# 357993
Series: Routledge Research in Sports History

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Britain has a long and distinguished history as an Olympic nation. However, most Olympic histories have focused on men’s sport. This is the first book to tell the story of Britain’s Olympic women, how they changed Olympic spectacle and how, in turn, they have reinterpreted the Games.


Exploring the key themes of gender and nationalism, and presenting a wealth of new empirical, archival evidence, the book explores the sporting culture produced by British women who aspired to become Olympians, from the early years of the modern Olympic movement. It shines new light on the frameworks imposed on female athletes, individually and as a group, by the IOC, the British Olympic Association and the various affiliated sporting international federations. Using oral history, and family history sources the book tells of the social processes through which British Olympic women have become both heroes and anti-heroes in the public consciousness. Exploring the hidden narratives around women such as Charlotte Cooper, Lottie Dod, Audrey Brown and Pat Smythe, and bringing the story into the modern era of London 2012, Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson Thompson, the book helps us to better understand the complicated relationship between sport, gender, media and wider society.


This is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in sport history, Olympic history, women’s history, British history or gender studies.

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