The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It

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$27.95  $25.99
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
5.9 X 1.3 X 8.2 inches | 1.06 pounds
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About the Author

Joanna Scutts is the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Women's History at the New-York Historical Society and a contributor to the New Republic, the Guardian, and other publications. She lives in New York.


The fascinating and formidable Marjorie Hillis has at last found her rightful biographer, champion, and exegete in Joanna Scutts. This is a beautifully written, insightful, and wise account of the life and work of an important but heretofore largely unremembered writer, wit, and proto-feminist.--Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking with Men
Literary critic Scutts unabashedly celebrates the midcentury single working woman using the life and works of Marjorie Hillis. . . . Like her protagonist, Scutts has a voice that is zesty, dashing, and full of verve. . . . Scutts uncovers the life of a little-known feminist hero in this thoroughly enjoyable romp through 20th century American history.
Rich in historical detail, Scutts' book is not just an elegant biography of a neglected protofeminist figure and a vivid exploration of American sociological history; it is also an important homage to a woman's right to choose how to live her life. A sparklingly intelligent and well-researched cultural history.
Before there was a Carrie Bradshaw or a Mary Richards, a Bridget Jones or a Holly Golightly, there was Marjorie Hillis. . . . Scutts' biography of this Depression-era feminist positions Hillis very much as a woman of her own time, and her thorough scholarship deftly illustrates how Hillis' iconic views continue to make her a woman for all time.--Carol Haggas
Both absorbing and, in the best way, unsettling. The Live-Aloner's fight to be accepted in her full humanity is a battle her great-granddaughters (or great-grandnieces) are still waging.--Dawn Raffel
[A] smart, informative and insightful cultural history . . . . Hillis's celebration of solitude, independence and integrity is, as Scutts reminds us, worth reviving.--Linda Simon
Scutts should feel proud that she did what she set out to do: return Hillis to her rightful place in the pantheon of women who made it possible for the rest of us to enjoy that freedom. 'Recovering the spirit of daring that defined the Live-Alone heyday can remind us that a different story is always possible, ' Scutts writes, 'and might just inspire us anew, to resist and rebel against convention, and to fight to create the life we really want.' Here's hoping every reader has the chance to do just that.--Ellen McCarthy
Smart and enjoyable. . . Scutts's affectionate portrait of Hillis helps draw a line from her subject's cheerful independence to the choices we enjoy today.--Barbara Spindel
Long before Girls, Carrie Bradshaw, and Mary Tyler Moore, Marjorie Hillis inspired women to live more independently as 'Live-Aloners, ' and she deserves more recognition than she gets. Joanna Scutts' account of Hillis and the cultural transformations she made possible is as witty, forthright, and elegant as its subject.--Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse
The Extra Woman reacquaints us with the feisty movie star heroines of the 1930s, the wartime rise of Rosie the Riveter, the 1950s retreat into domesticity and 'gender extremism, ' and the first stirrings of second-wave feminism. . . . But the most interesting aspect of Scutts' project, as well as its unifying thread, is the story of Hillis herself.--Julia M. Klein