Letter: Defending 'mad women in attics' 2

February 1, 2002

June Purvis raises important questions about Martin Pugh's use of evidence, his disregard for the rights of an informant and his interpretations of the suffragette movement in his book, The Pankhursts ("Pugh's book is full of errors", THES , January 25). Instead of addressing these in his reply ("Purvis's claims damage herself"), Pugh makes a scurrilous attack on Purvis, portraying her as a kind of intellectual stalker and explaining away her arguments as the product of "personal jealousy".

Ironically, his dismissive attitude is similar to that of many men towards the suffragettes in the early 20th century. On the evidence of his THES article, one can only assume that he is not interested in serious intellectual debate, only in silencing criticism of his work through engaging in personal abuse.

Martyn Hammersley
Professor of educational and social research
The Open University

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