, Volume 60, Issue 9-10, pp 760-763
Date: 23 Sep 2008

Perfidious and Pernicious Singlism

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The steady flow of published accounts and studies on the single life since the 19th century is testament that the single status continues to preoccupy the interest of scholars and layperson alike. What is it about singleness that excites such passion and puzzle? Historians, social psychologists, sociologists and above all novelists have struggled to explain the very existence of the single person, to reveal the strong social constraints imposed by marriage, motherhood and domesticity on women's lives in particular and to explore the cultural context in which single women were regarded as a ‘problem’, ‘redundant’ and even ‘superfluous’. Published anonymously in 1852 (and available online since 2005), an early account of the single life, Single Blessedness: Or Single Ladies and Gentleman Against the Slanders of the Pulpit, Press and Lecture Room was written to refute inadequate explanations for the existence of the ‘single class’ and to demonstrate that single people ‘can speak for ourse