'We Must Feed the Men': Pamela Hansford Johnson and the negotiation of postwar guilt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Gill Plain interrogates the trend towards domestic heteronormativity post World War Two in the light of the complex and profound disorientation of women’s post-war lives. She identifies a pervasive sense of personal, social and cultural loss, following the ‘smothering’ of wartime expectations, that often extended beyond the heterosexual matrix. Where ‘male’ plots reprogrammed masculine identity through purposeful activity beyond the home, the absence of plot in women’s fiction signals a lack of interest in the post-war rebuilding of the normative feminine psyche. The ‘resistant plotting’ of Pamela Hansford Johnson’s post-war trilogy, and its emphasis on the urgency of maternity, exhibits a turn toward the gothic. Male damage is offset by female guilt and the onset of a second childhood in her male characters, leading to a narrative of remasculinization. The largely absent figure of the child in post war narratives suggests a generation in mourning for its abruptly foreclosed childhood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish women's writing, 1930 to 1960
Subtitle of host publicationbetween the waves
EditorsSue Kennedy, Jane Thomas
Place of PublicationLiverpool
PublisherLiverpool University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781789627626
ISBN (Print)9781789621822
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameLiverpool English texts and studies


  • Gender
  • Heteronormativity
  • Maternity
  • Pamela Hansford Johnson
  • Masculinity
  • Gothic
  • Post-war


Dive into the research topics of ''We Must Feed the Men': Pamela Hansford Johnson and the negotiation of postwar guilt'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this