Opportunities for Young Women in WW2 in England

Women today do not know how far we have come. It wasn’t that long ago that women were raised to get married and that was it. No career was to be considered. Not even university.

A Job in London


While researching my book Olive’s Obsession based on Olive working at the Beaver Club in London during the war, I have found that there were not many choices for young women. Olive, who in real life was my mother, went to Pitmans’ College in London to learn shorthand. She then went on to learn typing and worked as a secretary for such amazing companies as Quaker Oats and the EverReady Battery Company. The Ever Ready Battery Company got bombed during the war and very fortunately all the staff were gone as it was night time so no one lost their lives.

Life in London

Olive and her friend in London in WW2

My Mother always said that she was in London working but did not see a lot of war going on. She maybe said that so that we, my sister and I, growing up would not think she had suffered. They all suffered severely especially with the bomb shelters being in the tube at any hour when the alarm sounded. Also, the lack of food and rationing books that had to be presented when purchasing food. Everything was for the war effort.

Voluntary Work in the Red Cross

Volunteers in the Red Cross

What Were Your Opportunities?

As for the opportunities, you were either a teacher, nurse or secretary. You were expected to marry young otherwise you were considered an “old maid” which many dreaded. If you were a member of the aristocracy, then you were expected to marry high up. No career was in the cards for you. That explains why volunteer work became popular with the aristocracy as they were appearing to do good for the lower classes. The class system existed in Great Britain at the time.

Ladies Having Tea in London

I plan on researching about job opportunities in World War II for young women to find out what their lives were really like.

Characteristics of the Plot

What characteristics does the writer consider when deciding the characters in a plot? I plan on a future book based on my mother’s experiences in England during World War 2. I know there are a lot of books written about women and the war. However, my mother did something unique. She volunteered in London at the Beaver Club. This was a place where Canadian soldiers could come to get sandwiches, coffee, new socks and maps to get around London while on leave. Of course, I won’t be calling the book The Beaver Club for obvious reasons. The working title is The Maple Leaf Club. The Club had various women volunteering there mainly with the food preparation and serving. Many of the women have long since passed away and perhaps their sons and daughters didn’t know much about it. The book I plan to write includes a murder in the Club and the life of Olive, the main character, who works as a secretary for a British firm and really wants to start a new life in Canada.

Research is required for this book. The photos I have of my Mother are helpful and the reunion photo is amazing. Many ladies fit into one large photo but all in black and white. I once asked my mother if she had dated anyone at the club. She replied, “Oh no, not me. I was too shy!”

What stands out in this story is the selflessness of the women who volunteered their time to work in the Beaver Club in London in the middle of the war. Life in wartime London was tough enough but these ladies volunteered their time to help Canadians. I’m looking forward to researching this book and learning what my mother experienced during the war.