We were delighted to announce Rafaelle Nicholson (Bournemouth University) and Matthew Taylor (DMU) as joint winners of the best Sport in History article for 2020-21 for 'Women, sport and the people’s war in Britain, 1939–45'.

Congratulations, Raf and Matt!



Despite considerable progress over recent years, female participation in sport continues to be neglected by historians. This is as true in relation to histories of women as histories of sport. It is especially evident in the context of the historiography of the British home front in Britain in the Second World War. The extensive literature on women in the Second World War has generally been silent on sport and leisure. This article challenges assumptions that the war had little impact on the sporting lives of British women. Utilising newspaper sources, government and military documents, memoirs and the diaries and directives replies in the Mass-Observation archive, it highlights the importance of sport and leisure to women themselves as well as to the government, military and civil defence authorities. Because women were an important part of the home front, their morale, welfare and physical fitness mattered to those in authority. But the impetus for an extension of women’s sport also came from the women themselves, who pressed for the space and the opportunities to participate in sporting activity and extend the boundaries of women’s sport to a degree that had seemed impossible between the wars.


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