Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In Honor of Great Britain's 2 Million Spinsters on Armistice Day

Aunt Carrie, American Spinster, Sidesaddle Horsewoman circa 1900.
In addition to honoring those who served in the military, I think it is important to also recognize some heroines of mine who were created by the devastation of the first World War: the spinster generation of Great Britain.  (American spinsters were not as profoundly affected because single male immigrants made up for many of the homegrown numbers who went to war and never came back .)

With so many men
lost to the war, this was the first generation of women who had no hope of marrying. So what did they do? They became suffragists and social workers, writers and secretaries. They infiltrated the domains men had once completely dominated because they did not have the distractions of husbands and children, but had to make a living somehow. So many progressive social movements have their roots in a generation of spinsters with the time and energy to fight for the most vulnerable in society. They were veterans of the homefront and deserve recognition as well. 

Their story is told in the book Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson. 

It's a fascinating book. Until that generation, spinsters were entirely dependent upon their fathers or brothers. Thanks to the development of the typewriter and the nursing profession, they were able to make their own (albeit minimal) livings. Higher education was available to women for the first time. With so many men dead or diminished by injuries and PTSD, these women filled vacancies and forged new lives of their own with no map or handbook. They didn't have kids, so they poured their creativity and nurture into improving society and their lot in it. 

No comments :

Post a Comment