My book review of 'The Fleet Street Girls' by Julie Welsh

The Fleet Street Girls

by Julie Welsh
The Fleet Street Girls
by Julie Welsh

We may have our opinions of today's media, confirmed or confounded by the information we've been receiving in recent months. But this book gives a fascinating insight to journalists working in the 1970s and 80s.

When Julie Welch started out as a reporter, Fleet Street was still the home and the hub of London's newspaper industry and it was very much an all-male club.

Julie's first job was a secretary on the 'Observer'. She felt this might be the closest she'd get to her dream of writing for the sports pages which were very much the male bastion.

Then a conversation with her boss in the pub led to her being given the chance to watch Tottenham Hotspur play Coventry the next day. She filed her report of the game, and became the first female football reporter in the country, keeping the job for the next 11 years.

This book is her memoir of that period, sharing not only her own experiences as a woman in a man’s world, but also those of other pioneering journalists. There's Valerie Grove, who began her career as the only woman on the Evening Standard’s Diary pages, and Wendy Holden, who spent a decade as a foreign and war correspondent at the Telegraph. There are comments from Eve Pollard, Lynn Barber, Katharine Whitehorn and 'You' magazine editor Sue Peart among others.

It's a story of struggle and privilege, of bravery and bravado, of hardship and humour. And it's very much an account of a time gone by.

Julie's writing is often wry and understated, and is a delight to read. She went to school at Felixstowe College, on the Suffolk coast, and wrote of that experience in the wonderfully entertaining memoir 'Too Marvellous for Words'. Julie has also written of her love for her football team, Spurs, in 'Those Glory, Glory Days'.

You can read more about Julie in my article for 'Suffolk' magazine here.

Review date: August 2020
Publication date: 20th August 2020