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Part II: Interacting with Readers 6. ‘There is a War on. Does She Know?’: Transatlantic Female Stardom and Women’s Wartime Labour in British Film Fan Magazines

Lisa Smithstead

Women's Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1940s-2000s, Pages: 117 - 132

Swansea University Author: Lisa Smithstead

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DOI (Published version): 10.1515/9781474469999-009

Abstract

The chapter takes as its central case study the transatlantic star Vivien Leigh,whose treatment by British fan magazines across the wartime period illuminates anetwork of conflicted discourses on celebrity, patriotism and gendered labour, givenher status as a star positioned uneasily between America...

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Published in: Women's Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1940s-2000s
ISBN: 9781474469982
Published: Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press 2020
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa60753
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Abstract: The chapter takes as its central case study the transatlantic star Vivien Leigh,whose treatment by British fan magazines across the wartime period illuminates anetwork of conflicted discourses on celebrity, patriotism and gendered labour, givenher status as a star positioned uneasily between America and Britain. I examineLeigh’s representation within the leading UK fan magazine of the time, Picturegoerand Film Weekly,3 considering its complex attempts to both establish and discredither stardom specifically in relation to war in a period during which ‘stars fi guredmuch more prominently than individual fi lms’ (Glancy 2011: 474). Leigh’s efforts atwar work, both on screen in overtly patriotic roles and off-screen through practicallabours such as knitting, visiting troops and tea-making, sit against a wider backdropof women’s wartime labour. Women’s work was essential to the national war effort,both on the public and domestic front. Robert Murphy (1992: 99) notes that by1944, ‘seven-and-a-half million women were working outside the home’. As a wartime woman whose labour and stardom was divided across the Atlantic, therefore, Leigh’s relatively conflicted treatment within the magazine illustrates the broader complexity of its specific articulations of wartime femininity. Examining her treatment within Picturegoer offers a fresh understanding of how magazine discourses addressed UK audiences in the Second World War, charting the specific role that British fan papers played in creating and disseminating gendered representations of wartime femininity.
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Start Page: 117
End Page: 132