A group biography of renowned crime novelist Dorothy L. Sayers and the Oxford women who stood at the vanguard of equal rights. In 1912, Dorothy L. Sayers and five friends founded a writing group at Somerville College, Oxford; they dubbed themselves the ‘Mutual Admiration Society.’ Brilliant, bold, serious, and funny, these women were also sheltered and chaperoned, barred from receiving degrees despite taking classes and passing exams. But things for women were changing – they gained the right to vote and more access to the job market. And in October 1920, members of the Mutual Admiration Society returned to Oxford to receive full degrees, among the first women to be awarded such honours.
Sayers and her classmates remained lifelong friends and collaborators as they battled for a truly democratic culture that acknowledged their equal humanity. They pushed boundaries in reproductive rights, sexual identity, queer family making, and representations of women in the arts – despite the casual cruelty of sexism that still limited women’s choices. Historian Mo Moulton brings these six indomitable women to vivid life, as they navigate the complexities of adulthood, work, intimacy, and sex in Interwar England.
A celebration of feminism and female friendship, Mutual Admiration Society reveals how Sayers and the members of MAS reshaped the social order – and how, together, they fought their way into a new world for women.