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Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century

The acclaimed exploration of the women who revolutionized American and British life.
From the 1880s to the 1920s, a profound social awakening among women extended the possibilities of change far beyond the struggle for the vote. Amid the growth of globalized trade, mass production, immigration and urban slums, American and British women broke with custom and prejudice. Taking off corsets, forming free unions, living communally, buying ethically, joining trade unions, doing social work in settlements, these "dreamers of a new day" challenged ideas about sexuality, mothering, housework, the economy and citizenship.

Drawing on a wealth of research, Sheila Rowbotham has written a groundbreaking new history that shows how women created much of the fabric of modern life. These innovative dreamers raised questions that remain at the forefront of our twenty-first-century lives.


  • “A revelatory new history.”
  • “An impeccably researched ... and thoughtful book. [Its] scope is impressive; it touches on nearly every conceivable subject: fashion, socialism, unions, housework, sweatshops, communal utopias, children, consumption, and of course, sex ... It’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t learn something from this book.”
  • “Exhilarating ... admirably lucid ... Reading about the wild hopes of these early 20th-century pioneers, you cannot fail to be moved by the sheer exuberance of their imaginations.”
  • “Ambitious and eloquent ... Rowbotham has a marvelous gift for explication and an eye for the illuminating quotation.”
  • “Fascinating ... As the 21st century falters forward with faith wars and economic collapse, women need to be at the forefront of reimagining our world. This book is a timely reminder that we have been here before.”


Other books by Sheila Rowbotham