Bad managers persist despite countless business books warning against the pitfalls of power. But no management text paints a more vivid picture of the problem than E.M. Delafield does in the monster of self-regard at the center of The War-Workers.
Published in 1918, this brief and biting novel is based on Delafield’s volunteer work in Britain during what was known then as the Great War. Born Edmée Elizabeth Monica de la Pasture (Delafield was a pseudonym), the author had already failed to receive an acceptable marriage proposal as a debutante and resigned from the Belgian convent to which she had fled in despair. The cloistered life ill-suited her, but the work she was given there was “an absolute revelation of unsuspected enjoyment” at a time when women of her lofty social status weren’t expected to take jobs.