The Extra Woman

How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It

Joanna Scutts (Author, New-York Historical Society)

Logo markA Liveright book


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.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • Forthcoming November 2017
  • ISBN 978-1-63149-273-0
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 288 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“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

“As a 'Live-Aloner,' I couldn't resist Joanna Scutts' The Extra Woman. Thanks to Scutts' scholarship, Marjorie Hillis and her self-help books for single women feel as relevant in 2017 as they were in the 1930s.” — Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them

“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. An impressive and necessary contribution to American women's history.” — Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse

“Exhilarating in content, magnetic in clarity, vital in its message, The Extra Woman is a much-needed addition to the tapestry that tells the history of the people of our country. I urge anyone who wants to be a well-rounded individual to pick up this book immediately.” — Mira Ptacin, author of Poor Your Soul