‘Keeping Yourself to Yourself’: Private Lives and Public Spectacles

Part of the Women’s Studies at York/Macmillan Series book series (WSYS)


The cluster of behaviours and attitudes implicit in the idea of ‘keeping yourself to yourself’ has often been read as signifying a spurious respectability, a respectability perceived as particularly evident amongst the socially aspiring and frequently explained as specifically engendered by the growth of suburbia, the emergence of consumerism and the break-up of the extended family and community networks associated with urban street cultures (Willmott and Young, 1962, p. 164). Stephen Taylor cites ‘keeping yourself to yourself’ as a cause of ‘suburban neurosis’:

Few who have not worked or lived in the suburbs can realise the intense loneliness of their unhappy inhabitants… Lack of individual enterprise, shyness and bashfulness prevent calling and the striking up of friendships. It is respectable to keep oneself to oneself (Taylor, 1938 p. 760).


Public Space Private Life Health Visitor Sexual Pleasure City Street 
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Copyright information

© Judy Giles 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College of Ripon and York St JohnUK

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