Maids, Wives, Widows is a lively exploration of the everyday lives of women in early modern England, from 1540-1740. The book uncovers details of how women filled their days, what they liked to eat and drink, what jobs they held, and how they raised their children. With chapters devoted to beauty regimes, fashion, and literature, the book also examines the cultural as well as the domestic aspect of early modern women’s lives. Further, the book answers questions such as how women understood and dealt with their monthly periods and what it was like to give birth in a time before modern obstetric care was available.
The book also highlights key moments in women’s history such as the publication in 1671, of the first midwifery guide by an English woman, Jane Sharp. The turmoil caused by the Civil Wars of the 1640s gave rise to a number of religious sects in which women participated to a surprising extent and some of their stories are included in this book. Also scrutinized are cases of notorious criminals such as murderer Sarah Malcolm and confidence trickster Mary Toft who pretended to give birth to rabbits.
Overall the book describes the experiences of women over a two hundred year period noting the changes and continuities of daily life during this fascinating era.
|Publisher:||Pen and Sword|
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Dr Sara Read is a lecturer in English at Loughborough University. She holds a PhD in early modern literature. Her particular interest is in representations of the female body in literature and she has published widely in this field. Her first book Menstruation and the Female Body in Early Modern England was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013, and she has co-edited a collection of early modern women’s writings on the topic of health and spirituality called Flesh and Spirit: An Anthology of Seventeenth-century Women’s Writing for Manchester University Press, 2014. In addition, Dr Read has published a number of social history articles for Discover Your Ancestors magazine.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations vii
A Note on Original Texts xii
Part I Women's Work 1
Chapter 1 'Goodwives': Marriage and Housewifery 3
Chapter 2 Women in Business: The Economic Lives of Early Modern Women 15
Chapter 3 Childcare: Raising Children from Infancy to Adulthood 27
Part II Personal Care 39
Chapter 4 Food and Drink 41
Chapter 5 Women and Dress 54
Chapter 6 Personal Hygiene and Beauty 65
Part III Women and Reproduction 75
Chapter 7 Menstruation: The Time of the Month 77
Chapter 8 Pregnancy: Being Big with Child 86
Chapter 9 Giving Birth 96
Chapter 10 Breastfeeding and Hiring a Wet Nurse 107
Part IV Women and Religion 117
Chapter 11 Religion and Worship in Early Modern Women's Lives 119
Chapter 12 Prophetesses and Preachers: Non-conformist Women 130
Part V Women in Public Life 145
Chapter 13 Courts and Criminals 147
Chapter 14 Women and Politics 158
Chapter 15 Literary Women 169