Born in 1893, Dorothy Whipple became one of the most popular novelists between the wars. After a happy childhood, Whipple worked for three years as the secretary to Henry Whipple, a widowed educational administrator 24 years her senior whom she later married in 1917. Based largely in Nottingham, she penned novels such as Young Anne, They Knew Mr Knight and the short story collection, The Closed Door and Other Stories. Although Whipple’s work fell into obscurity in the 1950s, literary reputation was resurrected when Persephone Books published six of her novels in the 2000s.
Described as the "Jane Austen of the 20th Century" by J. B. Priestley, Whipple wrote nuanced tales which revolve around families and the ways in which they confront and readjust to social change in a world becoming increasingly unrecognisable. Whipple’s characters are forced to learn that tenacity of spirit and the innate goodness of ordinary people will help them overcome life's hardships.
They Were Sisters - The fourth Whipple novel to have been republished by Persephone Books, is, like the others, seemingly gentle yet centres around the theme of domestic violence. Three sisters marry very different men and the choices they make determine whether they will flourish, be tamed or be repressed. Lucy's husband is her beloved companion; Vera's husband bores her and she turns elsewhere; and Charlotte's husband is a bully who turns a high-spirited naive young girl into a deeply unhappy woman.