Jacqueline Winspear
Jacqueline Winspear

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The World of Maisie Dobbs


The period of time from the mid-1900's until the 1930's was a time of unprecedented change in Britain. The devastation of The Great War, mass emigration to America and Canada, rapid social changes—not least votes for women—to be followed by the Roaring Twenties, the General Strike and the Depression. It was a time of burgeoning artistic expression, with the movements that we now know as Art Nouveau and Art Deco demonstrating a dramatic departure from the Victorian age.

The Great War demanded that there was hardly a field of endeavor left untouched by a woman's hand, so that men could be released for the battlefield. The first women joined the police force, they worked in construction, on the trains and buses, on the land and in all manner of military support roles. The made munitions and they worked close to the front lines as nurses, ambulance drivers; as intelligence agents and code-breakers. And after the war, it was these same remarkable women who, more often than not, faced a life alone, for the men they might have married had been lost to war.

It was also during these first decades of the century that scientific methods of detection were being rapidly developed. From medicine to international travel to the study of the human mind, all benefited from a time that was both terrifyingly painful in terms of the cost to human life, and yet demonstrated a hunger for innovation and a fascination with the avant-garde.

It is in this world that Maisie Dobbs came of age.

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