Published on December 15th, 20120
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
Dorothy Whipple’s almost entirely forgotten novel High Wages is one of the most compelling stories of personal initiative and entrepreneurship that I have read.
Left alone in the world with only fifty-two pounds in a savings account, Jane Carter decides to look for work. By chance, she arrives in town as a small local shop is posting an ad for a shop girl. She applies, and her pleasant appearance and cultivated manner get her the post.
The moment Jane begins her working life, she begins to blossom. Despite being expected to “live-in” in fairly dismal conditions, Jane loves her job. Thus, Whipple shares every detail with her readers. We know Jane’s salary and are updated when it changes, and we follow most of her expenses. We track her professional accomplishments from the moment when she has “her first real customer, and she was elated to serve her and to be on the way to earn[ing] commission.”