Victorian Women Were Once Asked ‘Why Are You A Spinster?’ And Their Responses Are Savage

Spinsters were the ‘crazy cat lady’ of the Victorian era — considered bonkers for refusing to marry.

But historian Dr. Bob Nicholson recently shared a few savage quotes from women who actually preferred the single life, even in the nineteenth century.

Their defiant words were printed in a humor magazine called ‘Tit-Bits’ in 1889, in which single women were asked:

“Why Are You A Spinster?”

Their shocking responses ranged from delightful to dramatic, but still totally relatable. 

One of the funnier responses calls the “animal man less docile than a dog, less affectionate than a cat, and less amusing than a monkey.” 🤣

Most of the answers to “Why Are You A Spinster?” defy popular notions of spinsters during the time.

Instead of sounding meek and repressed, responders to the newspaper contest came-off witty, sharp and utterly hilarious.

Dr. Nicholson posted a fascinating thread on Twitter detailing his discoveries.

People on Twitter adored the sassy quotes from ‘Tit-Bits.’

But some noticed weird details in the newspaper clippings.

Others found the 100+-year-old responses painfully relatable to dating in 2019.

Dr. Nicholson referred to ‘Tit-Bits’ as an early form of social media akin to Reddit.

Another wacky fact about unmarried Victorian-era women: according to writer Sophia Benoit, the term “spinster” was reserved for women aged 22-26.

But once they turned 27, a way nastier term came into effect…thornback.


Dating is completely insane in 2019, but at least you won’t get called a thornback for playing the field into your twenties.

If you’re feeling particularly empowered by these sassy women of yesteryear, you can keep the feeling alive with Badass Affirmations: The Wit and Wisdom of Wild Women available here.