by Joanna Scutts
From flapper to Feminine Mystique, here is a cultural history of single women in the city through the reclaimed life of glamorous guru Marjorie Hillis.
Despite multiple waves of feminist revolution, today’s single woman is still mired in judgment or, worse, pity. But for one brief exclamatory period in the 1930s, she was all the rage. Marjorie Hillis was working at Vogue when she published the radical self-help book Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. With Dorothy Parker–esque wit, she urged spinsters, divorcees, and old maids to shed derogatory labels, and her philosophy became a phenomenon. From the importance of a peignoir to the joy of breakfast in bed (alone), Hillis’s tips made single life desirable and chic. Now, historian and critic Joanna Scutts reclaims Hillis as the queen of the “Live-Aloners” and explores the turbulent decades that followed, when the status of these “brazen ladies” peaked and then collapsed. The Extra Woman follows Hillis and others like her who forged their independent paths before the 1950s saw them trapped behind picket fences yet again.
North American Publisher: Liveright/Norton, November 2017
Foreign rights contact: Allison Devereux, Wolf Literary Services
Film/TV rights contact: Rachel Crawford, Wolf Literary Services
I adored The Extra Woman, Joanna Scutts’ lively, charming mix of literary biography, cultural history, and social commentary centered around the singular life and work of Marjorie Hillis, who blazed a trail for woman daring to make lives, and set aside rooms, for their very own. With confidence and dry wit, Scutts reveals Hillis as a key link between first and second-wave feminism, and that living alone and liking it is as radical a concept now as it was eighty years ago.”—Sarah Weinman, editor of Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s