callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

  • Music:

The Role of the Teashop in Literature

This is the title of something I shall get round to writing one day. In the first half of the twentieth century enterprising young women, when they weren't running chicken farms, tended to opt for a teashop as a genteel way to make some money. Teashops are abundant in Girlsown fiction, from Squirrel House in The Abbey Girls on Trial to the much later The Sugar and Spice, which is a lovely comfort read by Mollie Chappell. Then there's all the teashops Miss Climpson visits in the course of her researches for Lord Peter Wimsey and the number described in The Franchise Affair. I was filled with nostalgia recently, watching the 'Who do you think you are' programme about Nigella Lawson. I hadn't realised that part of her wealth came from being a Lyons heiress. Some wonderful archive pictures reminded me what a treat it was to be taken into the marble halls of a Lyons Corner House when I was a child. Never were there such enormous, sugary buns, it seems now, but then everyone knows Wagon Wheels are smaller than they used to be.

What has put all this into my head is reading an article in The People's Friend (don't ask) called From Our Archives 1934, How to Run a Tearoom. You might be able to read some of it here.

Tags: detective fiction, girlsown books, reading, teashops, the people's friend magazine

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