To be published on 15 March 2022.
Latchkey Ladies was first published in 1921, the first novel by the Canadian writer Marjorie Grant Cook. The novel opens in 1918 in the Mimosa Club, a women’s hostel in central London where young women office workers and ladies on declining incomes find refuge from the tedium of war work and the chilliness of impending poverty.
Anne Carey is twenty-five, and works in an office where she is annoyed by soldiers harrassing her. She is engaged to a young lieutenant in the army, but she is bored of him and bored of the war. Her Mimosa Club friends take her to Bohemian parties where she meets models and artists, and then she meets Dampier. He is unlike anyone she has ever met before, and they begin an affair. Then, when he is holidaying with his wife and children at Easter, Anne realises that she is pregnant. What will she do?
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In Latchkey Ladies the decisions that Anne makes, and her stratagems for managing her pregnancy are as heartbreaking today as they would have been a century ago. This novel is remarkable for ignoring moral judgements, and for showing the contemporary reader the realistic choices that an educated woman has to make when she is thrown on her own resources with an illegitimate baby at the end of the First World War. The community of latchkey ladies comes into its own.
Latchkey Ladies (1921) was the first novel by the Canadian author Marjorie Grant Cook (1882-1965), and is drawn from her life in London as a single working woman. She was a prolific and influential reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement, and published seven novels. She was close friends with Rose Macaulay, whose own secret affair with a married man may have provided the background for Anne Carey’s story.