The Foolish Virgin is a biographical sequel to Manchester Fourteen Miles, in which Margaret Penn describes her childhood in a Lancashire labourer's family at the turn of the century. The sequel begins where the earlier book leaves off with Hilda Winstanley (alias Margaret Penn) arriving in London to live with her real father's family. It is a moving and humorous account of a young girl's reaction to being taken from a highly traditional rural working-class family and plunged into the sophisticated and active life of a middle-class professional family. By the end of the book Hilda Winstanley is a complete member of a higher class; literate, cultured, politically aware as a liberal and suffragist and prepared to earn her living as a secretary.
The three volumes were popular with reviewers and readers in the late 1940s but then fell out of print. They now hold new appeal, as an important record of a fascinating period of social history, as well as a moving and evocative account of one woman's life. Cambridge University Press is delighted to make them available for a new generation to enjoy.