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Whatever happened to Miss Bebb? Bebb v The Law Society and women's legal history



Gwyneth Bebb gave her name to a landmark case in the campaign to open the legal profession to women. In spite of this achievement, which is often mentioned but rarely analysed, historical accounts have given little or no attention to the woman or the campaign of which she was part; and what happened to her then and later has remained shrouded in mystery. The article finds that her disappearance was due in part to the circumstances of her life, outlined here, but mainly to the tendency of institutional histories, if they acknowledge women's contribution at all, to present it as a simple (though discontinuous) tale of progress, thereby masking continuing prejudice and inequality. The article argues that women's lives need to be properly examined to produce a more complete and truthful explanation of how things were, and how they are now.