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Furrowed Middlebrow is an exciting new development for Dean Street Press. Following the Furrowed Middlebrow blog, this imprint will rediscover and reissue entertaining and important works by lesser-known British women novelists and memoirists.

The years 1910-1960 were an unprecedented and prolific era for female authors, documenting – eloquently, humorously, poignantly (or frequently all of the above) – the social change, upheaval, and evolving gender roles of a volatile era. These years bookended two world wars, a global depression, the women's suffrage movement, seismic economic and class shifts, the beginning of the Cold War, and dramatic changes in ordinary day-to-day life. Women writers created some of the most insightful and compelling literature of the period. The great majority of their works, however, were neglected in later years, when publishers and critics grew to value other kinds of literature over what became known as the ‘middlebrow’.

In recent years, scholars and readers alike have begun to rediscover the middlebrow and recognize it for the vital cultural form it is. Furrowed Middlebrow aims to support this with the republication of some of the finest of the genre.

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She wondered how Lady Masters got her old parlour maid to carry the coffee right across the lawn. But, of course, Lady Masters got things simply by always having had them and by taking it for granted that she always would have them.

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At the end of the war, Mrs. Midge stayed on. While the war lasted Mrs. Custance had accepted her as part of the war-effort; it was only in the past year or two that Mrs. Midge had been transferred to the category which Mrs. Custance described as “people we could manage without.”

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A widow, at an age when birthdays are best forgotten, with no children to occupy her mind, can be very lonely. Julia Dunstan knew she was more fortunate than most widows, not merely because she was prosperous—as widows go—but because she had always taken an interest in other people.

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“I wonder what Mr. Heritage thought of his godson,” she said quickly.

“Rather clumsy, but quite good manners,” Edith remarked. “And a well-shaped skull.”

These were her own views, but she took it for granted that sensible people would agree with her.

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“My last secretary was thirty-five,” old M. said gloomily, “and no more sense than a child of ten. Or else she wasn’t all there. You all there?” he asked suddenly, giving Maud a searching look. “No banging your head on the table? No throwing the china at me? Hey?”

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“The best thing one can say about the Priory is that it would have made a splendid ruin,” she stated. “If only the Seamarks had left it alone . . .”

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‘Take off your coat,’ said the doctor. I took it off. ‘And your dress,’ he said. ‘It’s too dangerous – the folds may catch in the debris and bring the whole thing down.’ I took off the dress. ‘Fine,’ he said shortly. ‘It’ll have to be head first. We’ll hold your thighs. Go down and see if it’s possible to give an injection. Can you grip the torch with your teeth?’

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‘You don’t want to mind about any of this,’ said the driver, waving a hand at the grey ruins and the greyer dust. ‘In a few days you’ll be so used to it that you’ll like them. Berlin’s a grand place! I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world, and that’s a fact.’

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‘Heartrending but irresistible.’ Rosaleen Whateley, LIVERPOOL DAILY POST

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‘You are a virgin?’

‘Yes.’

‘How dull! What’s the use of being a woman if you’re a virgin?’

‘One has to begin sometime,’ I agreed.

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‘I can’t go back. I’d rather die—I’d rather be dead.’

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The peacock displayed himself and paraded the lawn, sometimes pausing to look up at the sky.

Waiting? Listening? Guiding. No. Signalling.

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This book was written for those who don’t despise children’s parties, Edwardian actresses, dancing classes and the scent of lilac over sun-warmed fences.

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In the schoolroom in Lowndes Square, a child, in her ugly, unsuitable frock of plum-coloured satin, cut down when discarded from one of her mother’s, bent over the cutting out of a doll and its cardboard wardrobe, and shivered as she worked.

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“Everything that’s happening to us—yes, everything—is to be regarded as a lark. See? This is my last word. This. Is. Going. To. Be. A. Lark.”

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“Is Florence looking after the house all right? I thought it was rather touching of her to say she would like to stay and be bombed with you. Mind you put her underneath when you’re lying down flat in an air-raid.”

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Oxford, it appeared, if it did not seem to have fitted her for any precise occupation, had at least unfitted her for a great many things.

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‘It’s a storm in a tea-cup, of course, but then we happen to live in a tea-cup!’

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We might be living in the first chapter of one of my own detective stories, the kind of story I always felt to be so improbable. A woman lay dead upstairs waiting to be screwed down; in another bedroom a man was having hysterics; in the kitchen a grey parrot was imitating both their voices; and in the sitting-room crouched the pugs, glaring at us now with rage and terror in their popping eyes. Soon a car would drive up and Henry’s sisters would join us, and Mr Galvain the man of business; and I, the stranger, wearing black for a woman I had never known, sat waiting to meet them.

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