ME: in Times Lit Supp

"Alpha of the Plough"

published September 20, 2019

Sir, – Reading Ulinka Rublack’s review of The Pocket: A hidden history of women’s lives, 1660–1900 by Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux (September 6) reminded me of a book of essays called Leaves in the Wind by “Alpha of the Plough”, which I bought on one of my visits to secondhand bookshops many years ago. Alpha of the Plough was the nom de plume used by A. G. Gardiner when writing in the London evening paper The Star during the First World War. He was a successful and well-regarded journalist and editor and his essays were written with a dry wit reminiscent of Jerome K. Jerome. For some reason the only one of these essays I still recall is “On Pockets and Things”, in which he addresses the paucity of pockets in women’s clothing compared to men’s. As a result he said there was a need for a “Society for the Propagation of Pockets Among Women” saying “Women have won the vote from the tyrant man. Let them win their pockets from the tyrant dressmaker”.

Beckley, East Sussex.