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Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson

Singled Out (2007)

by Virginia Nicholson

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3411350,056 (3.71)60
"The First World War deprived Britain of three quarters of a million soldiers, leaving as many more incapacitated. In 1919 a generation of women who unquestioningly believed marriage to be their birthright discovered that here were, quite simply, not enough men to go round. They became known as 'the Surplus Women'." "Many of us remember them: they wee our teachers, our maiden aunts, women who seemed to have lost out life's feast. This book tells their stories: it tells of the student weeping for a lost world as the Armistice bells pealed ... the socialite who dedicated her life to resurrecting the past after her soldier love was killed ... the Bradford mill girl whose campaign to better the lot of the 'War spinsters' was to make her a public figure ... and of many other who reinvented themselves." "Tracing their fates, Virginia Nicholson shows how the single woman of the inter-War decades had to stop depending on a man for her income, her identity and her happiness. Some just endured; others challenged the conventions, fought the system, found fulfilment. Singled Out pays homage to a remarkable generation of women. They were changed by war; in their turn they helped change society. These pages offer some of their solutions, and also some of their consolations."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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This book was very informative but I found that after about halfway the way the stories were told was a bit repetitive and all over the place. Sad stories in places and moving - courageous women in almost impossible situations surviving and thriving...very inspirational ( )
  SineadB | Dec 7, 2015 |
This book was very informative but I found that after about halfway the way the stories were told was a bit repetitive and all over the place. Sad stories in places and moving - courageous women in almost impossible situations surviving and thriving...very inspirational ( )
  SineadB | Dec 7, 2015 |
An informative and well researched - though occasionally repetitive - account of the 'Surplus Women' of the 1920s, left behind after a generation of young men were killed during the First World War. The personal histories of larger than life personalities like author Winifred Holtby, archaeologist Gertrude Caton-Thompson and Bradford battleaxe Florence White, who campaigned for 'spinsters' pensions', are remarkable and inspiring. Whether they remained unmarried through situation or choice, these women chose to challenge the traditional role of wife and mother, much to the horror of complacent males everywhere. The industrious workforce of clever and capable young women who took over during the war years were suddenly and literally out of a job when the surviving soldiers returned home - but there weren't enough men to make honest women of them either. All praise to the pioneers mentioned by Nicholson who decided that the men couldn't have everything their way.

Virginia Nicholson's history of 'how two million women survived without men after the First World War' is part ode, part lecture - if she recounts once how spinsters were viewed as sexually frustrated, sour-faced frumps, then she must do so in every chapter - but definitely required reading for every woman in the UK who takes for granted her 'right' to earn a living, have a family, or more often than not, do both. ( )
1 vote AdonisGuilfoyle | Mar 11, 2014 |
An interesting subject, told with care. I wish it had been better organized, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. ( )
  PetreaBurchard | Feb 9, 2014 |
This is a really interesting read. It details the situations faced and dealt with by the generation of women born in the UK between 1885 and 1905, those that came of age during the first world war an found themselves single due the the lack of available men. In a sense it is very sad, as a number of them clearly long to have married and had children, but at the same time, without this generation of ground breakers women today would have a much harder life. it seems to me that the advances that took place at the instigation of this generation of women far exceeds that if the feminist movement or the women's lib of the 60s & 70s.

I knew very few of these women, although both the Great Grannies that I knew fell into this generation. In both cases, the war intervened and they both had their children significantly later than would have been the case. Great Granny Bloy (according to family legend) lost her boyfriend during the war, only to marry in her late 20s and have her children (including my Grandma) in her early 30s - late compared to the standards of the prewar age.

Not all of them chose to be single, not all of them enjoyed the life they led with no regrets, but all of them managed and carried on and made themselves useful to their families and to society as a whole. It is largely because of this generation that my generation leads a life they would not recognise. ( )
1 vote Helenliz | Mar 31, 2013 |
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In 1978, when she was eighty-five years old, Margaret Jones, known as May, wrote her autobiography.   (Chapter 1)
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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