History Main / MaidenAunt

4th May '16 11:54:15 AM jamespolk
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* ''Theatre/AlisonsHouse'': Aunt Agatha never married and never even left home. Her sole concern is protecting the memory of her sister Alison, a CaptainErsatz of Creator/EmilyDickinson who gained posthumous fame as a poet.
28th Apr '16 5:12:09 PM Eievie
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She's your favourite elderly relative. Never married, never thought about marrying, never had a boyfriend or a lover -- or at least if she did you don't know about it. She's grey-haired, old-fashioned, conservative, prim, proper, prudish, strait-laced, and disapproving of anything new-fangled. She wears basic black with lace at the collar and cuffs and when she goes out she puts on a hat that went out of style in roughly 1920. But she dotes on her nieces and nephews, fusses over the local parson and the friendly neighbourhood policeman, and is sure to offer everyone 'a wee drop' of her special homemade cordial -- which, it turns out, could put a 600-pound gorilla into a coma (and [[Theatre/ArsenicAndOldLace sometimes more]]) after one sip. She drinks it by the gallon with no ill effects.

Although unmarried elderly women have always existed, the Maiden Aunt as a trope first arose in the 1880s. Historically, women had shorter lifespans than men because of the dangers of childbirth: many men married more than once, meaning that any woman who didn't marry at a young age had a good chance of marrying later on. But in the mid-Victorian era women's life expectancies increased due to advances in modern medicine while men's lifespans decreased, partly due to civilian conscription during wartime and, as we know now, partly due to increasing use of tobacco. Suddenly there were myriads, even millions of women who had no chance of marrying and, unlike unmarried men, had little chance of immigrating to a place where they could find a spouse. Decades later, these women reached old age and became known as maiden aunts.

They were especially thick on the ground in the US in the 1900-1930 period and in the Commonwealth in the 1950-1980 period -- these were the women whose potential husbands died in the US Civil War and in WorldWarI, respectively. In the 1920s they were often known as "Victorian aunts", because they had grown up in (and for the most part never quite left) the Victorian era. Often also called "spinsters" and "{{old maid}}s", although the latter term is usually discredited as offensive nowadays. If you were born in TheSixties you may remember how incredibly common they were, both in fiction and in RealLife.

Of course, many real-life women remained unmarried for reasons other than the one stated above. Some were lesbians, some were asexual, some preferred a career to marriage, some gave up the chance of marriage to look after aging parents, and some simply didn't want the bother of a husband and family. In fiction, though, they tend to be prudish, sexless conservatives who have never worked for a living. Some are kindly and sweet, some are bitter and angry, some are in a {{Cloudcuckooland}}. Often played straight in mysteries and for laughs in comedies. There aren't many subversions out there -- younger audiences are usually {{squick}}ed by any hint of sexuality in an older woman. A few characters fit this trope even though they aren't strictly speaking maidens.

to:

She's your favourite elderly relative. Never married, never thought about marrying, never had a boyfriend or a lover -- or lover--or at least if she did you don't know about it. She's grey-haired, old-fashioned, conservative, prim, proper, prudish, strait-laced, and disapproving of anything new-fangled. She wears basic black with lace at the collar and cuffs and when she goes out she puts on a hat that went out of style in roughly 1920. But she dotes on her nieces and nephews, fusses over the local parson and the friendly neighbourhood policeman, and is sure to offer everyone 'a "a wee drop' drop" of her special homemade cordial -- which, cordial--which, it turns out, could put a 600-pound gorilla into a coma (and [[Theatre/ArsenicAndOldLace sometimes more]]) after one sip. She drinks it by the gallon with no ill effects.

Although unmarried elderly women have always existed, the Maiden Aunt as a trope first arose in the 1880s. Historically, women had shorter lifespans than men because of the dangers of childbirth: childbirth; many men married more than once, meaning that any woman who didn't marry at a young age had a good chance of marrying later on. But in the mid-Victorian era women's life expectancies increased due to advances in modern medicine while men's lifespans decreased, partly due to civilian conscription during wartime and, as and--as we know now, partly now--partly due to increasing use of tobacco. Suddenly there were myriads, even millions of women who had no chance of marrying and, unlike unmarried men, had little chance of immigrating to a place where they could find a spouse. Decades later, these women reached old age and became known as maiden aunts.

They were especially thick on the ground in the US in the 1900-1930 period and in the Commonwealth in the 1950-1980 period -- these period--these were the women whose potential husbands died in the US Civil War and in WorldWarI, respectively. In the 1920s they were often known as "Victorian aunts", because they had grown up in (and for the most part never quite left) the Victorian era. Often also called "spinsters" and "{{old maid}}s", although the latter term is usually discredited as offensive nowadays. If you were born in TheSixties you may remember how incredibly common they were, both in fiction and in RealLife.

Of course, many real-life women remained unmarried for reasons other than the one stated above. Some were lesbians, some were asexual, some preferred a career to marriage, some gave up the chance of marriage to look after aging parents, and some simply didn't want the bother of a husband and family. In fiction, though, they tend to be prudish, sexless conservatives who have never worked for a living. Some are kindly and sweet, some are bitter and angry, some are in a {{Cloudcuckooland}}. Often played straight in mysteries and for laughs in comedies. There aren't many subversions out there -- younger there--younger audiences are usually {{squick}}ed by any hint of sexuality in an older woman. A few characters fit this trope even though they aren't strictly speaking maidens.



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[[folder: Comic Books ]]
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27th Mar '16 9:47:27 AM nombretomado
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* Miss Emily and Miss Mamie Baldwin on ''TheWaltons''.
* Aunt Bee on ''TheAndyGriffithShow''.

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* Miss Emily and Miss Mamie Baldwin on ''TheWaltons''.
''Series/TheWaltons''.
* Aunt Bee on ''TheAndyGriffithShow''.''Series/TheAndyGriffithShow''.



* {{Invoked|Trope}} in an episode of ''[[Series/ThirtyRock 30 Rock]]''. After one too many romantic failures, Liz gave up on dating and decided to start her "graceful transition into spinsterhood". This included buying a cat and naming it "Emily Dickinson" as well as joining a book club reading ''MurderOnTheOrientExpress''. Of course, she [[StatusQuoIsGod reverted to her normal self by the end of the episode]].

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* {{Invoked|Trope}} in an episode of ''[[Series/ThirtyRock 30 Rock]]''.''Series/ThirtyRock''. After one too many romantic failures, Liz gave up on dating and decided to start her "graceful transition into spinsterhood". This included buying a cat and naming it "Emily Dickinson" as well as joining a book club reading ''MurderOnTheOrientExpress''. Of course, she [[StatusQuoIsGod reverted to her normal self by the end of the episode]].
29th Dec '15 2:29:28 PM margdean56
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She's your favourite elderly relative. Never married, never thought about marrying, never had a boyfriend or a lover - or at least if she did you don't know about it. She's grey-haired, old-fashioned, conservative, prim, proper, prudish, strait-laced, and disapproving of anything new-fangled. She wears basic black with lace at the collar and cuffs and when she goes out she puts on a hat that went out of style in roughly 1920. But she dotes on her nieces and nephews, fusses over the local parson and the friendly neighbourhood policeman, and is sure to offer everyone 'a wee drop' of her special homemade cordial - which, it turns out, could put a 600-pound gorilla into a coma (and [[Theatre/ArsenicAndOldLace sometimes more]]) after one sip. She drinks it by the gallon with no ill effects.

to:

She's your favourite elderly relative. Never married, never thought about marrying, never had a boyfriend or a lover - -- or at least if she did you don't know about it. She's grey-haired, old-fashioned, conservative, prim, proper, prudish, strait-laced, and disapproving of anything new-fangled. She wears basic black with lace at the collar and cuffs and when she goes out she puts on a hat that went out of style in roughly 1920. But she dotes on her nieces and nephews, fusses over the local parson and the friendly neighbourhood policeman, and is sure to offer everyone 'a wee drop' of her special homemade cordial - -- which, it turns out, could put a 600-pound gorilla into a coma (and [[Theatre/ArsenicAndOldLace sometimes more]]) after one sip. She drinks it by the gallon with no ill effects.



They were especially thick on the ground in the US in the 1900-1930 period and in the Commonwealth in the 1950-1980 period - these were the women whose potential husbands died in the US Civil War and in WorldWarI, respectively. In the 1920s they were often known as "Victorian aunts", because they had grown up in (and for the most part never quite left) the Victorian era. Often also called "spinsters" and "{{old maid}}s", although the latter term is usually discredited as offensive nowadays. If you were born in TheSixties you may remember how incredibly common they were, both in fiction and in RealLife.

Of course, many real-life women remained unmarried for reasons other than the one stated above. Some were lesbians, some were asexual, some preferred a career to marriage, some gave up the chance of marriage to look after aging parents, and some simply didn't want the bother of a husband and family. In fiction, though, they tend to be prudish, sexless conservatives who have never worked for a living. Some are kindly and sweet, some are bitter and angry, some are in a {{Cloudcuckooland}}. Often played straight in mysteries and for laughs in comedies. There aren't many subversions out there - younger audiences are usually {{squick}}ed by any hint of sexuality in an older woman. A few characters fit this trope even though they aren't strictly speaking maidens.

to:

They were especially thick on the ground in the US in the 1900-1930 period and in the Commonwealth in the 1950-1980 period - -- these were the women whose potential husbands died in the US Civil War and in WorldWarI, respectively. In the 1920s they were often known as "Victorian aunts", because they had grown up in (and for the most part never quite left) the Victorian era. Often also called "spinsters" and "{{old maid}}s", although the latter term is usually discredited as offensive nowadays. If you were born in TheSixties you may remember how incredibly common they were, both in fiction and in RealLife.

Of course, many real-life women remained unmarried for reasons other than the one stated above. Some were lesbians, some were asexual, some preferred a career to marriage, some gave up the chance of marriage to look after aging parents, and some simply didn't want the bother of a husband and family. In fiction, though, they tend to be prudish, sexless conservatives who have never worked for a living. Some are kindly and sweet, some are bitter and angry, some are in a {{Cloudcuckooland}}. Often played straight in mysteries and for laughs in comedies. There aren't many subversions out there - -- younger audiences are usually {{squick}}ed by any hint of sexuality in an older woman. A few characters fit this trope even though they aren't strictly speaking maidens.



* Dorothy L. Sayers' Miss Climpson. We don't meet any actual family members for her to be an aunt to, but in one book she pretends Chief Inspector Parker is her nephew.

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* Dorothy L. Sayers' Creator/DorothyLSayers' Miss Climpson. We don't meet any actual family members for her to be an aunt to, but in one book she pretends Chief Inspector Parker is her nephew.



* The protagonist of Patricia Wentworth's ''Maud Silver mysteries'': a [[LittleOldLadyInvestigates governess who became a private investigator]]. She plays this trope straight - most of the stories show her writing letters to her nieces in her spare time, and she is at least an Edwardian (if not Victorian) throwback in terms of hairstyle, taste in interior decoration, and her love for Tennyson's poetry.

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* The protagonist of Patricia Wentworth's ''Maud Silver mysteries'': a [[LittleOldLadyInvestigates governess who became a private investigator]]. She plays this trope straight - -- most of the stories show her writing letters to her nieces in her spare time, and she is at least an Edwardian (if not Victorian) throwback in terms of hairstyle, taste in interior decoration, and her love for Tennyson's poetry.



* Creator/LMMontgomery had a lot of these in her stories - but considering when they were written, that's not surprising.

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* Creator/LMMontgomery had a lot of these in her stories - -- but considering when they were written, that's not surprising.



* ''Theatre/CharleysAunt'' gets a lot of mileage from this trope. Donna Lucia (although a widow, rather than never having married) is presumed by all five of the youngster to be one, although that's because they've never met her. (She isn't, by a long shot.) Babbs plays her as one while masquerading as her. Mr Spettigue expected her to be one, so he never even considers that there might be an imposture going on. The real Donna Lucia takes full advantage of it.

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* ''Theatre/CharleysAunt'' gets a lot of mileage from this trope. Donna Lucia (although a widow, rather than never having married) is presumed by all five of the youngster youngsters to be one, although that's because they've never met her. (She isn't, by a long shot.) Babbs plays her as one while masquerading as her. Mr Spettigue expected her to be one, so he never even considers that there might be an imposture going on. The real Donna Lucia takes full advantage of it.
28th Nov '15 4:17:41 PM nombretomado
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* ''Comicbook/{{Spider-Man}}'': Aunt May fits parts of this trope, though she's a widow and went back to dating after Uncle Ben died. She was with [[ComicBook/TheAvengers Edwin Jarvis]] for a while, but then [[SecretInvasion it turns out]] that ''that'' Jarvis ''[[TheMole ain't]]'' Jarvis. You're a Parker, May--your love life's gonna be chaos, it's the law! She's more of a Maiden Aunt in the newspaper comics than in the comic books.

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* ''Comicbook/{{Spider-Man}}'': Aunt May fits parts of this trope, though she's a widow and went back to dating after Uncle Ben died. She was with [[ComicBook/TheAvengers Edwin Jarvis]] for a while, but then [[SecretInvasion [[ComicBook/SecretInvasion it turns out]] that ''that'' Jarvis ''[[TheMole ain't]]'' Jarvis. You're a Parker, May--your love life's gonna be chaos, it's the law! She's more of a Maiden Aunt in the newspaper comics than in the comic books.
25th Nov '15 4:38:04 AM Morgenthaler
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* Juliana Tesman in ''HeddaGabler''.

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* Juliana Tesman in ''HeddaGabler''.''Theatre/HeddaGabler''.



* ''[[Theatre/CharleysAunt Charley's Aunt]]'' gets a lot of mileage from this trope. Donna Lucia (although a widow, rather than never having married) is presumed by all five of the youngster to be one, although that's because they've never met her. (She isn't, by a long shot.) Babbs plays her as one while masquerading as her. Mr Spettigue expected her to be one, so he never even considers that there might be an imposture going on. The real Donna Lucia takes full advantage of it.

to:

* ''[[Theatre/CharleysAunt Charley's Aunt]]'' ''Theatre/CharleysAunt'' gets a lot of mileage from this trope. Donna Lucia (although a widow, rather than never having married) is presumed by all five of the youngster to be one, although that's because they've never met her. (She isn't, by a long shot.) Babbs plays her as one while masquerading as her. Mr Spettigue expected her to be one, so he never even considers that there might be an imposture going on. The real Donna Lucia takes full advantage of it.
15th Oct '15 2:04:07 PM Talisguy
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Added DiffLines:

** Given [[WordOfGay certain other revelations the creators made about her]], there's a pretty good reason she never married and never wanted to.
28th May '15 7:42:21 AM JaywalkersNeverProsper
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* Gwen's great aunt Madeleine in ''Literature/TheRubyRedTrilogy'' who lives in the MultigenerationalHousehold that's headed by her sister-in-law and Gwen's grandmother Lady Arista.
7th Apr '15 5:35:02 AM jormis29
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* Mrs. Crumplebottom from ''TheSims'' Specifically, Miss Crumplebottom in Sims 1, who is the unmarried aunt of Mortimer Goth and sister to Cornelia Goth, though she is never seen interacting with her family

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* Mrs. Crumplebottom from ''TheSims'' ''Franchise/TheSims'' Specifically, Miss Crumplebottom in Sims 1, ''VideoGame/TheSims1'', who is the unmarried aunt of Mortimer Goth and sister to Cornelia Goth, though she is never seen interacting with her family
22nd Feb '15 3:28:18 PM Menshevik
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Added DiffLines:

* Adelheid von Stechlin is this to Woldemar in ''Literature/DerStechlin''.
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