Jill Tweedie: a woman of sparkling wit

JILL TWEEDIE has died, aged 59. She was an emblem for all that was best about the early years of the women's movement. She reflected the excitement, energy and optimism of liberal feminists who were prepared to argue their case with wit and humour, and at the same time retain affection and concern for the poor male creatures who needed to modify their ways. Not for her the stridency of radical feminists who were to split the sisterhood and set back the cause.

Jill Tweedie joined the Guardian from the Sunday Telegraph in 1969. The timing was perfect. The first bras were about to be burnt in New York and in London, the Guardian's women's page needed to move on from the minority concerns of bored graduate housewives.

She seized the moment. By the time I joined the paper in 1971, Jill Tweedie was a star. She may have written only once a week on a Monday but nevertheless she was the Guardian's women's page. Both she and her prose sparkled. She would swan into the office on a Friday, all long skirts and laughter and stay but briefly. Office life was not for her. Discussions took place in the pub opposite.

Her confidence in her views was enviable. She was older than most of us and she had lived. And suffered. Her unhappy middle-class childhood, her ghastly marriage to a Hungarian count who abducted her children, and her hippie years all seeped into her writing. No desire for privacy here; she was happy to bare her soul.

Beneath all this was a woman who constantly needed a mass of both professional and private support. Private stability she found in her marriage to Alan Brien, but still she needed the support of her women friends. When invited to a party outside her milieu she would cajole one to go with her. Professionally she needed nurturing and, at times, nannying. She has said that her happiest time was at the Sunday Telegraph where the women's editor 'mothered' her writers.

When I became the editor of the women's page in 1973, I was determined to get rid of the ghetto by changing the name of the page, by widening the agenda and by welcoming contributions from men. I invited the late James Cameron to write on alternate Mondays to Jill, who by then wanted more time for other writing.

Jill winced when she saw the male bylines increasing. She invited me to a 'party' which turned out to be a kangaroo court attended by a group of her women friends who accused me of being a misogynist. The logic of equality defeated them. It was almost amusing. Ironically, in recent years she longed to move from the women's page and be seen as a general columnist. A move to the Independent was short-lived.

In the end she expressed disappointment with her career, even though she had written books as well as non-fiction, and unhappiness that editors were inevitably seeking a younger voice.

Her reaction to her illness, motor neurone disease, discovered four months ago, was in character. Not for her the stance of the stoic. She railed against her misfortune and relied once again upon the support of her friends who this weekend are adjusting to the loss of an exceptional woman.

(Photograph omitted)

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn