Patricia and Dorothy were well-educated and fashionably well-read. Dorothy had been brought up quietly but comfortably in Leicester where her father owned two wool-knitting factories which had prospered from government contracts during the Great War. Patricia's background was metropolitan London. She banked at Harrods and subscribed to their lending library. In Cookham she borrowed books from Boots Library in Maidenhead. From regular sojourns in France they enjoyed smuggling home books restricted at the time in England, such as the sex research books by Krafft-Ebing and Hirschfeld, and fiction such as Joyce's Ulysses. One of their girl-friends wrote from England to say that her brother had told her that Ulysses was 'the filthiest book he had ever read', so naturally she longed to read it, and would they please bring her back a copy?

Patricia loved covering their books in brown paper, not for secrecy but because it was a common preservation fashion in days before loose book covers had become the norm.