Evelyn (Eve) Wilson is a pseudonym chosen by the editor of The Note Books of a Woman Alone, Mary Geraldine Ostle. The real name of the woman who kept the notebooks has not been preserved. Most of the few biographical particulars we have for Wilson come from the introduction to The Note Books; a few more come from the entries. The introduction tells us that Wilson worked at an employment agency for twenty-one years, was laid off at age forty-eight or forty-nine, and died nine months later. The Note Books was published in 1935, and includes quotations from nine books published in 1934. On these grounds we can say that Wilson was born in 1885 or 1886, served as a governess from about 1903 to 1913 (ten years, beginning at age seventeen, by Wilson's own account), worked at the agency from some time in 1913 until early 1934, and died within the year.
The title The Note Books of a Woman Alone, Ostle notes, was Wilson's own, inscribed in each of the eight notebooks she left behind. By the phrase “a woman alone” Wilson defined for herself, and for what readers she might have imagined, the distinctive feature of the life recorded on her pages. In her prefatory editor's note, Ostle elaborates briefly: “She seems always to have felt alone, and her notes are all built round that theme—that she was not a part of any scheme of life” (xiii). Delving into The Note Books, the reader will find that Wilson's notes in fact range across many themes. However, Ostle gets something right about the nature of Wilson's aloneness. As an unmarried woman supporting herself and living on her own, Wilson did not fit into the established frameworks of family and social life in her era. She was not a wife, a widow, or a mother; nor was she a daughter caring for a parent, nor an aunt in a married sibling's household. Of necessity she worked for her living, but she was not among the pioneering professional women of her generation who defined themselves by their careers. She was dislocated even from the class structure: economically she was no longer part of the middle class in which she grew up; culturally she did not belong to the class below.
Wilson's project of self-documentation was spurred in part by her awareness of the historical novelty of her schemelessness, which was also a new and uncharted freedom. After ten years as a live-in governess, she had trained and found work as a stenographer, and was able at last to separate her living space from her work. “My own room, however poor,” she resolved, “rather than someone else's house, however rich” (5). It was 1913, and she was twenty-seven years old. With relief and determination, she began an independent life, and with it her notebooks. Living outside the bounds of a conventional household and working within an employment agency for governesses and nurses, Wilson had a critical vantage on family power structures and on the position of women as wives, mothers, daughters, domestic workers, and, no less, as employers of other women. The idea of marrying for security and position she regarded as “early Victorian” and, more to the point, potentially “hell” (12). She gave herself rein to imagine a classless society in which all would receive an income sufficient to live, and in which social divisions would arise only from temperament (103). Railing against the systemic inequality and casual cruelty she observed daily, she went beyond her duties to assist the most vulnerable women who came to the agency seeking work. She does not appear, however, to have aligned herself with any of the progressive feminist or political organizations that were active in London in her time. Practically as well as emotionally, she fought her battles largely on her own. And the shadow side of her freedom was poverty and social invisibility.
Of her time as a governess, standing outside the “charmed circle” of a family, Wilson writes, “I was too isolated, there was no one who could see the life from my angle” (6). Her change of work put her on more equal footing, bringing her colleagues and friends. The sense of being alone in her angle on life endured, however, and this was at least in part due to her marital status. The never-married woman was regarded as an aberration, even though spinsterhood, as it was called, had been common before the First World War, and became more so after the loss of 700,000 British men. The 1921 census found the nation's gender imbalance to be the highest on record,Preliminary Report, xvi.1 and concluded that “reduced opportunity for marriage in the case of a large number of women will be felt in an extreme degree.”General Report, 82.2 The “surplus” of women was not, as some headlines declared, one or two million. But the figures for that year show single women aged twenty to fourty-four outnumbering their male counterparts by 609,000—a less sensational, but significant disparity.The inflated numbers of the headlines were based on the total population, in which females outnumbered males by 1,720,802. By comparison, the figure for 1911 was 1,179,276. Earlier disparities in the proportion of sexes were explained by higher infant mortality rates for males and migration of men to the colonies. Virginia Nicholson finds that during and after World War One, some girls’ schools began preparing their students for the reality that many of them would not be able to marry (Nicholson 20)..3 Taking into account also the high rates of mental and physical disability among surviving men, the impact of the war on women seeking to marry was very real. Katherine Holden finds that half the unmarried women in their late twenties in 1921 were still unmarried in ten years later (Holden 29). Wilson was a few years older than the cohort Holden examines, but she had spent her pre-war young adulthood as a governess, confined for long hours in her first position, and isolated in the country in her second one—“as much a prisoner,” she reflects, “as if I had been in Holloway” (4). Liberating herself in her late twenties, she entered a society in which the relative scarcity of potential mates did little to alleviate the stigma on unmarried women, much less the discrimination of the labour market in which so many had to support themselves. Indeed, the denigration of spinsters gained fresh force between the wars, fueled by the loosely Freudian “new psychology,” which pathologized the celibacy that was nonetheless expected of them. General acceptance of the centrality of sexual desire in psychic life meant that spinsters could readily be maligned as neurotic, morbid, deviant, and even predatory.Allison Oram examines the implications of sexology and the new psychology in the context of debates about the marriage bar for female teachers, which ensured that most were single. Arguments against the marriage bar often resorted to aspersions against spinsters and insinuations about “unhealthy” relationships, particularly within girls' schools. “Once the sexual instinct was identified in every woman,” Oram finds, “the deviant categories of spinster and lesbian could easily be confused, and female friendship increasingly came into question” (188). For more on the implications of sexology and the new psychology for unmarried women, see also Holden and Sheila Jeffreys.4
Leaflets of the Over Thirty Association
Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. MSS.292/134.6/2
Being unmarried, however, was not the only factor in the aloneness that Wilson felt defined her, and at least on the evidence of The Note Books, it was not the predominant one. She writes occasionally of desire, and of the social awkwardness of being single, and she collects texts that articulate the particular pain of that circumstance. But the more pervasive concerns are poverty and the failure of her own family to have formed, either in her childhood or her adulthood, a place where she felt at home. Poverty exacerbated her isolation, constraining where she could go and the company she could keep. Her meagre income made unattainable her minimal conditions for true independence, which she defined as “a flat with its own front door, some books, and security when old” (41), while family estrangement precluded an arrangement of beneficial interdependence. Many single women, as Holden shows, were not in fact “alone,” but integrated into extended family structures, often as crucial income-earners and caregivers on whom others depended. When families failed, however, unmarried women were often left in precarious circumstances. For “older” women—a designation that came into effect at thirty—work was harder to find, and the risk of destitution and homelessness was particularly high. The increasingly high rates of unemployment for this group during the Depression led to the formation of the Over Thirty Association, which advocated for jobs and housing, and offered training, practical assistance, and moral support.Founded in 1934, the Over Thirty Association began as a hostel for unemployed women the previous year. Renamed The Over Forty Association for Women in 1955 (amended to The Over Forty Association for Women Workers in 1967), it celebrated fifty years in 1983 with a short history of its work, A Place of Her Own. It continues its work in London today under the name Housing for Women.5 For Wilson, however, the work of the Association began too late. In 1934 the employment agency changed hands and she was laid off with the rest of the staff. “The daily fear,” she wrote, “has become a certain fact” (41). Close to fifty and unable to find work, she died later that year.
The phrase “a woman alone” has a distinct and enduring resonance. It was used in several book titles before The Note Books, and has appeared in another twenty since, evoking, variously, pathos, peril, and adventure. Above all, the phrase draws its power from the anomalousness of female independence. The life inscribed in The Note Books encompasses all of those associations. But it also extends the sense of the word “alone” to something beyond “unaccompanied.” It presents us perhaps most forcefully with the particular aloneness produced by a society that upholds an ideal of self-reliance, and stringent notions of success and failure, even in the face of gross and manifest inequality.
Beyond the brief obituary that appeared in the London Times in 1950, what we know about Mary Geraldine Ostle comes mainly from two sources: two letters she wrote to Virginia Woolf, and the records of her professional life preserved in the papers of the Froebel Society, a progressive educational organization that offered training and support for elementary school teachers and governesses. Ostle read Woolf's feminist masterpieces A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938) as soon as they were published, and was moved in both cases to write to Woolf to convey her enthusiasm and gratitude. In a post-script to the second letter she identifies herself as the editor of The Note Books of a Woman Alone. Describing the book as her own effort “to express some of the difficulties women labour under,” she attributes her inspiration to A Room of One's Own.For more on the connection between these two books, see my essay “A Room of One's Own, Ordinary Life Writing, and The Note Books of a Woman Alone.”6
Like Wilson, Ostle was unmarried, but she was better educated and better off. She had teaching certification and a trainer's diploma from the Froebel Society; she was able to retire at about age fifty for health reasons (Zink 69); and, as her second letter to Woolf reveals, she had her own flat and could afford some small luxuries. In her twelve years at the Froebel Society, however, Ostle had become well acquainted with the struggles of less fortunate self-supporting women. As Gabriela Suzana Zink's examination of the Society records shows, in addition to serving as Secretary and Librarian (as well as occasional lecturer and contributor to the Society's journal), Ostle played a semi-official role as confidante and problem-solver. She administered the “rainy day envelope,” a fund raised from the membership to assist teachers in hardship, and on her retirement in 1931 she was celebrated for her “kindness and sympathy to all members, and especially to those in any difficulty or trouble” (Zink 69). Shortly after Ostle's departure, the Society received a letter from a group of teachers wishing to pay tribute to that aspect of her service that had necessarily remained discreet. “Miss Ostle's organising work as Secretary and Librarian is well known and fully appreciated,” they wrote, “but her unfailing and understanding [sic] of our individual difficulties[ ]is known only to each one of us” (Zink 72). It is worth considering what is veiled in that letter, as in Ostle's letter to Woolf, by the very general term “difficulties.” The members and clientele of the Froebel Society were almost exclusively women, marriage bars ensured that almost all were single,Marriage bars for teachers were widely reintroduced or newly imposed by Local Education Authorities in the early 1920s, in response to the return of men from the war and high teacher unemployment. The validity of marriage bars was contested between the wars, but as of 1939 they were still in effect in eighty to ninety percent of LEAs (Oram 47-63).7 and few earned enough to save for periods of illness or unemployment. Women were paid significantly less than male teachers, a disparity justified by reference to the “family wage” required by men; however, many single women teachers—Allison Oram estimates about a third—were supporting family members, often the elderly or infirm (Oram 63-65). High unemployment, stiff competition for jobs, and their own and others' dependence on their earnings left these women little recourse in the face of personal or workplace trouble, including harassment and abuse.
Geraldine Waife, the ostensible author of the introduction to The Notes Books, is almost certainly a pseudonym adopted by Ostle, fashioned out of her middle name. An extensive search has turned up no biographical information or records for a Geraldine Waife, even though two novels were published under that name in the early 1920s: Colleagues: A Novel without a Man (1923), and The Scrap Heap (1924). The single trace of Waife outside the novels and The Note Books is a letter to the publisher Macmillan, dated January 1929, offering the manuscript of a third novel, and indicating that it had been turned down by Chapman & Hall, the publisher of her first two.Records of Macmillan and Co. Ltd., University of Reading Special Collections.8 The signature on that letter, however, bears some resemblance to Ostle's, and in the 1934 Author's and Writer's Who's Who— a detailed trade directory based on information solicited from writers and publishers—Ostle is listed as the author of Colleagues and The Scrap Heap, as well as articles in Child Life, the Froebel Society journal.Listings in The Author's and Writer's Who's Who, first issued in 1934, include biographical information, publications, addresses, and phone numbers. The publisher's foreword states that the aim was “to constitute a comprehensive and authoritative work of reference for everyone engaged in the literary, journalistic, and publishing professions,” and that “every fact has been obtained at first hand and is up to date at the time of going to press” (7).9 In the 1948-49 edition, where Ostle next appears, she is credited with the novels again, along with The Note Books of a Woman Alone. Finally, the two novels portray in detail the lives of governesses and teachers, and the workings of schools and teacher-training colleges. The world they reflect is one Ostle knew well, first-hand as a certified teacher and trainer herself, and second-hand through over a decade of service to others in the profession.
If Waife is in fact Ostle's pseudonym, as I believe, it remains curious that she would use it to write to a prospective publisher in 1929, disclose it for Who's Who in 1934, and yet inscribe at least two copies of The Note Books with both names—the one on which this edition is based, and a second held by Zink (Zink 77). That she would identify herself to Woolf only as the editor of The Note Books is more easily explained by her diffidence, evident in both letters, in communicating with so eminent a novelist. It was in her own two novels, however, that Ostle had first undertaken to document and expose “some of the difficulties that women labour under.” Both Colleagues and The Scrap Heap are devoted to the trials of young teachers with minimal or no formal training, no prospects of marriage, and no support beyond what they earn.
Colleagues bears a dedication “to the million ‘superfluous women’ with profound respect,” and in a prefatory sketch the author presents it as a rare and yet much-needed thing: a novel for and about “ordinary women.” The protagonist Marion Chilvers, new to her position at a teacher training college, takes the side of an unjustly treated colleague. She is consequently bullied into resigning by the principal and, having further erred in passing the age of thirty, she enters a downward spiral into unemployment and homelessness.
The title The Scrap Heap comes from a remark by a character in W.L. George's A Bed of Roses (1911), which is used as one of the chapter epigraphs: “[W]e women are just raw material. The world uses as much of it as it needs and throws the rest on the scrap heap.” Lesley Banister, the awkward elder daughter of a middle-class family that has little use for her, optimistically takes work at a cheap private school to escape the dependency and unhappiness of her home life. Initially she finds the hard conditions and long hours compensated for by friendship with fellow teachers and pleasure in the teaching. The school is soon sold, however, and having no certification, she takes work as a governess in a private home. There she is isolated, and working conditions are far worse; she deteriorates physically and mentally until she reaches the brink of suicide.
Both novels make explicit cases against a society designed by men and arranged for families, without regard for the women rendered superfluous in the market for wives and expendable in the market for labour. Threading through both is the longing of these women for the means to establish homes of their own, and their continual fear of unemployment, illness, and “a starving and undignified old age” (C 61).
The trajectories of Waife's two protagonists do not map onto Wilson's, but the conditions and experiences represented in Colleagues and The Scrap Heap have many parallels in The Note Books, and both Marion and Lesley are characterized—as Wilson by her own account was—as rather unworldly, and lacking the shrewdness required to succeed in what the novels call simply “the fight.” The introduction to The Note Books tells us that Waife met Wilson after joining “Miss De Burgh's Registry” (apparently also a pseudonym) as a junior stenographer. Was this a position Ostle held before training with the Froebel Society, and is the account of Waife's friendship with Wilson essentially Ostle's own? We can only surmise. However, the author of Colleagues and The Scrap Heap certainly knew Wilson. This is evidenced by a number of textual coincidences between the two novels and The Note Books. Of the seventy-four quotations used as chapter epigraphs in the novels, thirteen appear in The Note Books. Part of a paragraph in Colleagues appears almost verbatim in The Note Books as a short reflection attributed to Wilson (C 109, NB 93-94), and there is again a near coincidence of a passage in The Scrap Heap and some lines within a longer entry by Wilson (SH 85, NB 12). It is possible that these two coincidences arise from Wilson's copying or remembering her friend's novels. A third coincidence, however, suggests that the borrowing was going in the other direction. In Colleagues, we find one of Wilson's statements—identified as quotation, but unattributed—delivered by the heroine, as she explains to the secretary at an employment agency that she “must have a some sort of a home,” and therefore will not take a resident post: “‘My home is any room across the door of which I may draw the bolt,’ quoted Marion, hoping she was not talking very foolishly” (C 210). The novelist is quoting Wilson (NB 26), perhaps from conversation, or perhaps Wilson shared her writing with her friend. Perhaps too, both were collectors of quotations, and borrowed from each other's store.
It is not difficult to imagine that the textual coincidences between the novels and The Note Books arise from conversations or shared notebooks, but they do raise further questions about the account of the friendship presented in the introduction and in Wilson's entries, and about its fate. “Geraldine Waife” is mentioned on three occasions in Wilson's entries: twice during the time she was working with Wilson at the registry (39, 97), and once years later, when Wilson remembers her as a particularly congenial colleague and friend, who had taken her to the theatre, lent her books, and introduced her to a wider social circle (220). In this latter entry, Wilson also records that Waife married, and later left England for a time. There is no mention of this Geraldine Waife having published novels, and the novels are never quoted as such. Here it becomes more difficult to read “Ostle” for “Waife.” Would Ostle never have shared her novels with her friend, and Wilson never have encountered them by chance? Furthermore, Ostle appears not to have married, while the Waife of The Note Books did, and, according to the introduction, had children (x). The introduction makes no mention of the two novels published a decade earlier, and Waife's time at the registry is referred to as her “first, and last, post” (vii), implying that her knowledge of the world of minimally qualified working women ended as well as began there. Indeed, her distance from it is emphasized: “it will never cease to be a grief to me that, fathered, husbanded, and childed as I was, I had taken no care of Eve when she needed a friend most. . . . We all failed her, and never saw her fear” (x). If Waife is Ostle's pseudonym, Ostle took the trouble to create for the introduction a distinct persona also, presenting a woman whose family life, as well as financial position, put her at a comfortable remove from the circumstances of women like Wilson.
The persona that Ostle created for the introduction to The Note Books is rather at odds with the novels to which the pseudonym Waife is also attached, for it is hardly possible that the author of Colleagues and The Scrap Heap knew Wilson and “never saw her fear.” If we persist in reading “Ostle” for “Waife,” however, it would appear that Ostle and Wilson had been long out of touch, and that in that sense Ostle had “taken no care” of Wilson when she was most in need. For in the last entry in which Wilson mentions Waife, within a longer reflection on friendships, she writes, “I think she would have understood. She wanted to understand. Some people don't” (220). The implied object of this intransitive “understand” is the course of Wilson's own life and, more generally, the material and psychological struggles of the economically entrapped. Wilson's measure of uncertainty here suggests that the distance between the two women was such that she never learned of her erstwhile friend's novels, for Colleagues and The Scrap Heap testify to that understanding, and would have dispelled any doubt.
A long separation would also accord with the “great surprise” that the introduction tells us Waife felt on receiving from Wilson's brother the news of Wilson's death, along with the notebooks and some books (ix). The introduction does not say why Wilson's brother made Waife the recipient of these things, or how he came to locate her. As Wilson was estranged from both her brothers, it is unlikely that either would have known a friend from her past; it seems probable, therefore, that she left instructions for her notebooks and books to be sent to the friend of former years whom she remembered as at least having wanted to “understand.” There is, then, much about the relationship between the editor and the author of The Note Books that remains speculative, but two things seem fairly certain: that Ostle's friendship with Wilson informed the two novels in which she first sought to expose the precarity endured by so many self-supporting women, and that, years later, Wilson entrusted to Ostle her own record of that struggle.
Ostle says little about her editorial procedures other than to indicate, both in her prefatory editor's note and in the statement preceding her Acknowledgements, that many of Wilson's collected texts had to be left out due to problems identifying authors, securing permissions, and, in some cases, prohibitive cost (289). She also notes that she omitted common quotations from the classics, keeping only those that “seem[ed] to throw a new light on Eve's point of view” (xiii).
The organization of the notebooks into titled thematic sections was at least begun by Wilson herself, as she refers to the process on two occasions: she describes how she came to combine two projected sections, “Vision” and “Bewilderment,” into one (116); and she notes her reason for placing a poem about dreams in her “Illness” section (271). It is possible that Wilson completed her process of organization, equally so that Ostle did some further arrangement, rearrangement, or supplying of section titles. The title of the final section, “The End of Eve's Story,“ would appear to be Ostle's.
Other than four notes initialled M.G.O., the only definite appearances of Ostle's shaping hand within the text are the “prelude” pieces for sections VI and VII, which are initialled G.W. and attributed to Geraldine Waife in Ostle's index. The prelude to section IX is also initialled G.W., but attributed to Wilson in the index and corrected by hand in the copy on which this edition is based. Zink notes the same correction in her copy of the book, which is also inscribed by Ostle to a friend (Zink 77). The selection and placement of the other preludes may also have been Ostle's work; it is equally possible that it was Wilson's, and that for the two sections that were lacking those introductory pieces Ostle inserted her own material for consistency.
Both the introduction and the prefatory editor's note evince uncertainty regarding the genre and potential audience of The Note Books. The introduction proposes that the book may find a readership in “other Eves”—hard-pressed working women with little money or time for reading, for whom Wilson's philosophy could provide some “mental shelter” (x). In the editor's note Ostle offers The Note Books as an anthology of quotations that indirectly reveals something of its obscure and lonely assembler. There is no mention of the definite purpose—“to express some of the difficulties women labour under”—that Ostle asserted in her letter to Woolf. Ostle's reticence regarding the book's feminist and political import appears tactical, an effort to appeal to readers on the less contentious grounds of pathos and mystery, and, for some, recognition and consolation.
Active Anthology edited by Ezra Pound (Faber & Faber, 1933)
and The Note Books of a Woman Alone edited by M.G. Ostle (Dent, 1935)
The dust jacket, which was to do the work of attracting buyers, emphasizes The Note Books' autobiographical dimension, offering readers a glimpse into the murky world of urban poverty and obscurity. It makes a teasing reference to Wilson's pseudonymity, but promises the frisson of the real: “if Eve Wilson did not live (did she?) someone very like her tore this page from life.” The ultimately uncategorizable nature of the book, as much as the conditions of female independence and urban alienation it portrays, may have determined the emphatically modern design of the jacket, which closely resembles that of Faber & Faber's 1933 Active Anthology, compiled by that most fervidly modern of poets, Ezra Pound. For all its oddity, The Note Books of a Woman Alone looked promising enough to elicit an order from E.P. Dutton in New York for 500 copies—a modest number, but typical for a trial run. The American edition appeared in the summer of 1936.Editorial correspondence and sales figures for The Note Books do not appear to have been preserved. The J.M. Dent Records at the University of North Carolina contain two incidental postcards from Ostle (an acknowledgment of correspondence received, and a change of address notice), and correspondence with E.P. Dutton regarding their order and American permissions.10
Reviews of The Note Books were perceptive and favourable, with one exception: M.C. Strachey, writing for The New Statesman and Nation, found Wilson culpably lacking in cheerfulness.Marjorie Colville Strachey (1882-1964) was a sister of Lytton Strachey and author of a number of books.11 The other reviewers did not need Ostle to have made explicit the political significance of The Note Books. They recognized it as a record and indictment of the conditions faced by many self-supporting women, and found it also a moving account of generosity and courage in the face of hardship and fear. Nonetheless, The Note Books soon disappeared from view. It was never reprinted, and attracted no critical attention until fifty years later, when Thomas Mallon devoted a few pages to it in his survey A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries (1984). Another sixteen years passed before it surfaced again, in Anna Snaith's introduction to readers' letters to Woolf about Three Guineas, among which she had found Ostle's, with its credit to A Room of One's Own (Snaith 9). The study of women's diaries and autobiographical writing continues to enrich our understanding of women's history, while the intersecting history of singleness has just begun to be written. In the work of scholars in these and other fields, and, equally, in the lives of non-specialist readers, we hope that this edition of The Note Books will find its place.
The difficulty Ostle faced in identifying the authors and sources of many of Wilson's collected texts has been greatly reduced by search engines and the mass digitization of old books, but it has not been eliminated entirely. We have attempted to confirm the attributions given in Ostle's edition, to supply those that were missing, and to provide titles and publication dates. The latter have been omitted for some pre-1800 texts for which dating is complicated or imprecise, such as the classics and Shakespeare's plays. Our primary goal in identifying and dating sources was to clarify the range of Wilson's engagement with literature and ideas, particularly with works of her era, as many that appear in The Note Books have since fallen into obscurity. Secondly, we aimed to help the interested reader locate the texts in full, which, it should be noted, Wilson herself may not have had access to. She relied largely on free or cheap subscription libraries, and many of her quotations were taken from excerpts in periodicals or other books. Ostle notes that she corrected faults of transcription and memory in the quotations; we have not corrected those that remain, but have noted “approximation.”
Ostle chose to annotate Wilson's quotations with the authors' names only, providing source titles following the names of publishers and authors credited for permissions in her Acknowledgments. In cases where we have been unable to confirm a source by other means we have relied on Ostle's record, and have indicated this with the note “credited in Acknowledgments.” Following her Acknowledgments of publishers and authors, Ostle gives a further list of names, some of which are credited with unpublished letters, sermons, conversations, or interviews. With the single exception of May Roberts, the names in this second list of acknowledgments appear as sources of quotations in the text. In these cases, we have annotated the quotation with the kind of source, if given by Ostle, and have noted “credited in Acknowledgments.” Two of the names in this second list, Mary Boyd and V.H. Friedlaender, also appear among the “helpers and friends” thanked at the beginning of the Acknowledgments. It is unclear whether Ostle had personal contact with the others on this second list, or if their names had been noted by Wilson. Attributions that we were unable to confirm we have left unannotated.
- 1 Preliminary Report, xvi.
- 2 General Report, 82.
- 3 The inflated numbers of the headlines were based on the total population, in which females outnumbered males by 1,720,802. By comparison, the figure for 1911 was 1,179,276. Earlier disparities in the proportion of sexes were explained by higher infant mortality rates for males and migration of men to the colonies. Virginia Nicholson finds that during and after World War One, some girls’ schools began preparing their students for the reality that many of them would not be able to marry (Nicholson 20).
- 4 Allison Oram examines the implications of sexology and the new psychology in the context of debates about the marriage bar for female teachers, which ensured that most were single. Arguments against the marriage bar often resorted to aspersions against spinsters and insinuations about “unhealthy” relationships, particularly within girls' schools. “Once the sexual instinct was identified in every woman,” Oram finds, “the deviant categories of spinster and lesbian could easily be confused, and female friendship increasingly came into question” (188). For more on the implications of sexology and the new psychology for unmarried women, see also Holden and Sheila Jeffreys.
- 5 Founded in 1934, the Over Thirty Association began as a hostel for unemployed women the previous year. Renamed The Over Forty Association for Women in 1955 (amended to The Over Forty Association for Women Workers in 1967), it celebrated fifty years in 1983 with a short history of its work, A Place of Her Own. It continues its work in London today under the name Housing for Women.
- 6 For more on the connection between these two books, see my “A Room of One's Own, Ordinary Life Writing, and The Note Books of a Woman Alone.”
- 7 Marriage bars for teachers were widely reintroduced or newly imposed by Local Education Authorities in the early 1920s, in response to the return of men from the war and high teacher unemployment. The validity of marriage bars was contested between the wars, but as of 1939 they were still in effect in eighty to ninety percent of LEAs (Oram 47-63).
- 8 Records of Macmillan and Co. Ltd., University of Reading Special Collections.
- 9 Listings in The Author's and Writer's Who's Who, first issued in 1934, include biographical information, publications, addresses, and phone numbers. The publisher's foreword states that the aim was “to constitute a comprehensive and authoritative work of reference for everyone engaged in the literary, journalistic, and publishing professions,” and that “every fact has been obtained at first hand and is up to date at the time of going to press” (7).
- 10 Editorial correspondence and sales figures for The Note Books do not appear to have been preserved. The J.M. Dent Records at the University of North Carolina contain two incidental postcards from Ostle (an acknowledgment of correspondence received, and a change of address notice), and correspondence with E.P. Dutton regarding their order and American permissions.
- 11 Marjorie Colville Strachey (1882-1964) was a sister of Lytton Strachey and author of a number of books.
- The Author's and Writer's Who's Who. London: Shaw (1934).
- The Author's and Writer's Who's Who and Reference Guide. London: Burke's Peerage (1949).
- Daniels, Hilary and Jean Richardson. A Place of Her Own: Work and Housing for the Older Woman: The Story of the Over Forty Association for Women Workers. London: The Over Forty Association, 1983.
- Holden, Katherine. The Shadow of Marriage: Singleness in England 1914-1960. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2007.
- Jeffries, Sheila. The Spinster and Her Enemies: Feminism and Sexuality 1880-1930. London: Pandora, 1985.
- Mallon, Thomas. A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries. New York: Tickner & Fields, 1984.
- Nicholson, Virginia. Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War. London: Penguin, 2008.
- Ophir, Ella. “A Room of One's Own, Ordinary Life-Writing, andThe Note Books of a Woman Alone.” Woolf Studies Annual 20 (2014): 25-40.
- Oram, Allison. Women Teachers and Feminist Politics, 1900-1939. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1996.
- Snaith, Anna. “Wide Circles: The Three Guineas Letters.“ Woolf Studies Annual 6 (2000): 1-12.
- Zink, Gabriela Suzana. Virginia Woolf's Rooms and the Spaces of Modernity. Unpublished thesis. London: King's College, 2013.
Citation: Ophir, Ella. “Introduction.” Ella Ophir and Jade McDougall, editors. The Note Books of a Woman Alone: A Critical Edition of the 1935 Text. University of Saskatchewan, 2016, drc.usask.ca/projects/notebooks/introduction.php.