I am old enough to still own books and among my collection is a vintage book on dating.
“Live Alone and Like It”, by Marjorie Hillis (1889-1971) An American who was Vogue assistant editor.
Her book was published in 1936, causing a media sensation
“Sophisticated Miss Hillis honestly believes there are advantages in a husbandless state!” gasped one critic – with its shocking concept of the possibility of a cheerful single life.
In fact, Miss Hillis
(daren’t use her first name as we haven’t been formally introduced)
was not promoting being single rather than married
but showing how we can all be positive in our singledom.
A topical subject now in 2014.
This book was written 20 years after the 1st World War, a period in which an entire generation of men were lost, who, by 1936, should have been in their 30s and 40s.
Their widows had little choice than to live alone, as there were so few men left.
At that time, while sexual frustration was acknowledged it was not openly discussed. So not quite the same as now!
The chapter “Will You or Won’t You?” discusses the delicate subject of love affairs.
“Whether or not a woman has had her Moments,” advises Miss H. “If she has a grain of common sense she keeps it to herself since if she has, most people would be shocked and if she hasn’t, the rest would be superior.”
Actually, keeping an air of mystery would be a welcome change after our daily tabloid kiss and tells.
She continues, “Every woman needs friends who drop in for tea or cocktails or supper; friends with whom to share expeditions, to pour out enthusiasms and troubles and show off her new hats and old admirers”.
Now, we do all that too, more graphically…
If you are concerned about etiquette and entertaining, Miss Hillis is extremely helpful.
How do you get a man friend to leave at the correct time?
First decide whether you want him gone for good or merely for now.
If the latter, a tactful “Let me get you a glass of water, it’s hours since you had that whisky” should do the trick. The idea is for both parties to stand up and said guest will then take his leave.
Would this work today? Doubt it!
Miss H continues, Is it permissible for an un-chaperoned single woman to wear pyjamas when a gentleman calls?
“Lounging pyjamas which resemble sleepwear are suitable only for feminine guests whereas hostess pyjamas would not shock a bishop.”
Memo to self: get some elegant bias-cut satin pyjamas for entertaining the local vicar – penguin-printed fleece onesie definite no-no.
Marjorie Hillis encouraged “bachelor girls” to treat being single positively.
“You will have nobody to make a fuss over you when you are tired, but you will also have nobody to expect you to make a fuss over him, when you are tired”.
Now thats still true today
A year after this book was published, aged 48,
(her readers felt she had betrayed them!)
she found herself a widower to marry .
“Be interested and you’ll be interesting” may just catch you that man…