Radio Girls

Written by Sarah Jane Stratford
Review by Arleigh Johnson

Maisie Musgrave, an unemployed Canadian-American living in 1920s London, lands a job at the up-and-coming British Broadcasting Corporation as secretary to the Talks director. Even so, she still focuses on her dream of marrying, settling down and starting a family. Hilda Matheson, a woman ahead of her time, is over the department and quickly becomes Maisie’s role model. With a little encouragement, Maisie begins taking steps to get more involved in the Talks, coming up with her own ideas on topics. When she discovers a collection of Nazi propaganda pamphlets with familiar names scribbled on them, she decides to investigate further—with Hilda’s permission. Ultimately she uncovers a plot involving the BBC and its enemies who want to quash its progressive stances on hiring and retaining women after marriage, among other things. Maisie must find a way to protect not only her beloved career, but something else that has become dear to her—her right to independence. Maisie’s view on a woman’s traditional role shifts drastically after she finds true joy in her career, and she flourishes under Hilda’s instruction.

A highly detailed narrative and well-fleshed characters set the stage for this unique, early 20th-century story. After the First World War, there were many more female employees and the world was changing. This is an eye-opening view of the world when women’s rights were newly budding. Hilda Matheson is an important historical figure who not only excelled at her job, but paved the way for professional women in Great Britain to follow in her footsteps. This book will appeal to readers who’d like to learn about the history of the BBC and the newly emerging female workforce.