Surplus Women

After the First World War, there was a great flowering of female independence as more women chose to live single lives. This change, and the backlash to it, is all there to be found in the murder mysteries of the period, if you just dig a little below the surface. From self-contained, professional women like Mary Whittaker in Dorothy L Sayers’ Unnatural Death to dear, fluffy Miss Marple, there are a multitude of single women’s lives to discover.
But let’s go back to the beginning. This particular story starts with the surplus women.

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Rosemary Cresswell, senior lecturer in global history at the University of Hull. Follow her on Twitter @RosieCresswell.
Camilla Nelson, associate professor of writing at the University of Notre Dame Australia.
—Helen Parkinson

Further reading:
A field guide to spinsters in English fiction
‘Surplus women’: a legacy of World War One?
Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson.
The Shadow of Marriage by Katherine Holden
Unnatural Death by Dorothy L Sayers

NB: Links to Blackwell’s are affiliate links, meaning that the podcast receives a small commission when you purchase a book there (the price remains the same for you). Blackwell’s is a UK independent bookselling chain that ships internationally at no extra charge.

You can find a full transcript of this episode at

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