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50 years of Sex and the Single Girl


The BBC considers how things have changed over the past 50 years since the publication of Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown in 1961. Being unmarried and childless is so common now that no-one bats an eyelid, but things were very different at the start of the 1960s. I know AbeBooks has a few customers who enjoyed the Swinging Sixties and will remember the significance of this book.

What Brown and her landmark book Sex And The Single Girl did was to show how spinsterhood actually was and to furnish a lively, hilarious chapter-by-chapter guide to its nuances and pitfalls.

With chapter titles such as Women Alone? Oh Come Now!, The Availables: The Men in Your Life and The Affair: From Beginning to End, the book was a runaway hit, selling two million copies in three weeks and making many bestseller lists, including the New York Times’s.

Critically, Sex And The Single Girl was either loved or hated – and surprisingly lambasted by some feminists such as Betty Friedan.

(PS – I am the only person to smile wryly because this book was written by an author called Gurley?)

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Richard Davies

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