Oh, to be gay in the 1950’s



A hard-back Mills and Boon!


Maiden Flight by Betty Beaty, about an air stewardess falling for her pilot, was published by Mills and Boon in 1956! Well I never, a hardback Mills and Boon!

I bought it on a whim from my local charity shop, not realising that Betty Beaty had a large following back in the day. The book is apparently ‘a charming romance with gay and serious, fickle and faithful characters.’ Pretty sure the gay bit meant happy back then.

I love the preface in the front: “Of all the professions open to women the one with the highest marriage rate is surely that of the air stewardess.”

I think, nowadays, that would read the highest divorce rate!

Betty Beaty, a romance writer for Harlequin, was born in 1919 and led an interesting  life gaining a degree in Social Science and serving in the Woman’s Auxiliary Airforce in the second world war. She lived a long and happy life with her husband who was also a writer, and a pilot for BOAC, and died at the ripe old age of 95.

To be honest, l haven’t read Maiden Flight from cover to cover, but it’s lovely to dip into, to read about the  exotic flights  in days gone by. Pamela, the heroine was a ‘good wholesome girl who polished her buttons and pressed her uniform nightly.’ She is, of course, lucky enough to bag her very own pilot but will have to leave her job once married. Doesn’t that seem like the most bizarre thing nowadays?


Reading the adverts in the back of the book (something publishers don’t do anymore, and I wonder why not?) told me, for example, that embroidery was the way to peace of mind.

But what really struck me was the advert for the book ‘Beauty Belongs to You’ that was priced at 15 shillings. This seems like an huge amount of money for a book published in 1956. It states that ‘every woman can be beautiful,’ and mentions Elizabeth Arden twice. She apparently targetted plain and middle-aged women assuring them that they too, could be beautiful.  Her make-up has certainly stood the test of time, hasn’t it?


Maiden Flight is a lovely delve into the past, though I do wonder what Pamela, the heroine, would make of  in-flight Kit Kats and drinks served in plastic glasses on a night flight to Ayia Napa. The horror!


About Jackie Ladbury

I write heart-warming contemporary romcoms and historical women’s fiction that is always guaranteed a happy ever after. From spending many years as an air-stewardess and seeing that it really is love that makes the world go around, I determined to put the same sparkle and emotion into my stories. My life is no longer as exotic (or chaotic) as it was in those heady days of flying around the world as I live a quiet life in Hertfordshire with my beautiful family and two pesky cats. Air Guitar and Caviar and The Magic of Stars are airline based novels and Christmas Kisses on Hollywell Hill is a stand-alone feel-good Christmas romance set in St Albans. The Potter's Daughter was published by Choc Lit/Ruby Fiction in February 2019 and Happy Christmas Eve was published Christmas 2019 by Ruby fiction/ Choc Lit.
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