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10 Fun Facts about Spinsters

I think I know quite a lot about single people and single life. I’ve studied single people for many years and have practiced single life my whole life. But I learned a lot of new fun facts from Kate Bolick’s new book, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own. (I reviewed the book for Psych Central and also wrote about it in “50 shades of single“.)

Here are a few of my favorite fun facts:

  1. The first American woman to win the Nobel Prize was a lifelong single woman. The year was 1931 and the celebrated spinster was Jane Addams.
  2. Coco Chanel was also a lifelong single woman.
  3. “In one particularly telling 1962 poll, the majority of married women claimed that they were happy, but only 10 percent wanted their daughters to follow suit.”
  4. “During the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, of the nearly two-hundred people accused of witchcraft…the majority were adult women at the fringes of society, whether poor single mothers or widows whose wealth inspired jealousy.”
  5. “Of the tens of thousands executed for witchcraft in central Europe from 1450 to 1750, three quarters were widows over fifty who lived alone. Which is to say that her crime was the audacity of existing without a husband.”
  6. The word “date” appeared in a mainstream publication (with quotation marks) for the first time in 1914.
  7. “Juliet was thirteen when she married Romeo…throughout the 1800s the legal age of consent in most states was ten, eleven, or twelve – seven in Delaware – but, mercifully, by century’s end social reformers had pushed that number to between sixteen and seventeen.”
  8. Maybe the Victorian era wasn’t what we think and what women really wanted was freedom from having so many children: ” the so-called ‘passionlessness’ we attribute to Victorian women was their ingenious means of shutting down their own libidos, and those of their husbands, in order to abstain from sex at a time when birth control was unreliable and/or simply physically uncomfortable…”
  9. About women in the workforce in the late 1800s: “Key to women’s ascent was the typewriter. Invented in 1867…In 1870, only 4 percent of stenographers and typists were women…by 1900, they were at almost 80 percent.”
  10. Factory workers in Lowell, Massachusetts in the mid-1800s were often single women. They came together to create “the first major union of working women in the United States.”

Victorian woman photo available from Shutterstock

10 Fun Facts about Spinsters

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single." Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2015). 10 Fun Facts about Spinsters. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Apr 2015
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