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Spinsters, Widows and CharsThe Ageing Woman in British Film$
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Claire Mortimer

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781474452823

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2022

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474452823.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

‘Infertile, domestically unnecessary, and jealous’: Hags, Witches and the Magic Spinster

‘Infertile, domestically unnecessary, and jealous’: Hags, Witches and the Magic Spinster

Chapter:
(p.155) Chapter 7 ‘Infertile, domestically unnecessary, and jealous’: Hags, Witches and the Magic Spinster
Source:
Spinsters, Widows and Chars
Author(s):

Claire Mortimer

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474452823.003.0007

One of the most enduring types of female ageing in fictional texts is the witch. Representations of the witch in British film are informed by a cultural imaginary which extends back through the centuries. A sequence of post-war films reiterated the threat of the ageing woman by evoking the supernatural, drawing on myths of the ageing unattached woman as a monstrous hag. In contrast the chapter examines a more benign figuration of the female grotesque and the supernatural with Margaret Rutherford’s performance as an eccentric medium in Blithe Spirit (1945), which was to define her persona as a ‘magic spinster’. The 1960s and 1970s witnessed a return to the ageing woman as monster, as British horror films increasingly targeted a youth audience. These monstrous women were a boon for the ageing actress, finding a new younger audience.

Keywords:   Female ageing, Witch, British film, Post-war, Supernatural, Hag, Female grotesque, Margaret Rutherford, British horror films, Spinster

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