Spare Rib is the iconic magazine of the second-wave feminist movement in the UK. Published between 1972 and 1993, from 1973 it would adopt a collective editorial strategy, making it akin to other grassroots collectively published zines and pamphlets. Starting as a counter-artefact to mainstream women’s magazines, it is a crucial document of the debates and disagreements of the Women’s Liberation Movement; its manifesto, published in its first issue, explains its contextual intentions and conditions. From a historical reading, the magazine is a testimony that, against a view of 70s and 80s feminism as a unified attempt by left-leaning white bourgeois women, the collective approach of the publication meant that if undoubtedly there was a predominant privileged voice within it’s contributors, many other voices from different class, race, gender, sexuality, experiences were trying to raise their own views.
The British Library produced a full digitisation of the magazine in 2015, but this resource has been taken down due to Brexit in January 2021. Still their dedicated BL Spare Rib website hosts hundreds of digital items and articles for research into the publication.
You can read a bit further through Grassroots Feminis, Open Culture, or Vice. And for an introduction to the early years of Spare Rib, you can listen to an interview with some of the women that started the project at the BBC Radio archive [accessed 29/3/2021].
Our Zine collection holds 5 catalogued items visible through the Library Catalogue and two boxes of uncatalogued issues for research consultation.