Women’s History

In response to:

Only Women from the April 11, 1985 issue

To the Editors:

In his review “Only Women” [NYR, April 11] Lawrence Stone laid down ten commandments for those engaged in women’s history—such historians as myself and Antonia Fraser. His attitude seems to me extreme by most standards if his first commandment is to be taken seriously. “Thou shalt not write about women except in relation to men and children.” To justify this fiat Stone points out that “women are not a distinct caste, and their history is a story of complex interactions.” If this is true of women it is equally true of men, and it is equally true (or equally false) that “Thou shalt not write about men except in relation to women and children.” This really would relegate most historical writing so far to the rubbish heap, and Professor Stone to the ranks of the most hard-line feminist historians. I look forward to his revision of his earlier work. His efforts will no doubt be on a scale to match his assumption of the mantle of Moses—or does he speak with even greater authority?

Or are these commandments simply the tablets of Stone?

Mary Prior

Oxford, England