*William Safire: “in 1887, the English essayist Augustine Birrell coined the term in his series of essays, ”Obiter Dicta”.”
From: Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985):
“Jane was Doreen’s daughter, just turned seventeen and very studious.
‘If she don’t get a boyfriend folks will talk. She spends all her time at that Susan’s doing her homework, or so she tells me.’
Nellie thought that Jane might be seeing a boy on the quiet, pretending to be at Susan’s. Doreen shook her head. ‘She’s there all right, I check with Susan’s mother. If they’re not careful folk will think they’re like them two at the paper shop.’
‘I like them two,’ said Nellie firmly, ‘and who’s to say they do anything?’
‘Mrs Fergeson across saw them getting a new bed, a double bed.’
‘Well what does that prove? Me and Bert had one but we did nothing in it.’
Doreen said that was all very well, but two women were different.
Different from what? I wondered from inside the dustbin.”
From Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April (1922):
“In the eighties, when she chiefly flourished, husbands were taken seriously, as the only real obstacles to sin. Beds too, if they had to be mentioned, were approached with caution; and a decent reserve prevented them and husbands ever being spoken of in the same breath.”