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Top 10 dissenting life stories | Sheila Rowbotham

From Doris Lessing’s frank memoirs of social change to less famous campaigners in decisive struggles, these accounts provide an inspiring look ‘into the window’ of history

I spent my 1950s adolescence at a Methodist school in east Yorkshire, longing to be somewhere else. I was interested in history from an early age and as I grew older biographies, autobiographies and memoirs provided me with a means of travelling beyond the school gates. Through reading I met all kinds of dissenting individuals and entered excitingly diverse circles. Realising there were alternative ways to think about yourself and how to live, I became a cerebral rebel.

Individuals’ stories introduced me to political and social ideas and I maintained the connection when I eventually produced two of my own: Promise of a Dream: Remembering the Sixties and Daring to Hope: My Life in the 1970s. Recollections which are both personal and yet connected to a wider social and political milieu have always engaged me the most and I am in the midst of editing my manuscript on the 1980s.

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