'The history of childhood is an area so full of errors, distortion and misinterpretation that I thought it vital, if progress were to be made, to supply a clear review of the information on childhood contained in such sources as diaries and autobiographies.' Dr Pollock's statement in her Preface will startle readers who have not questioned the validity of recent theories on the evolution of childhood and the treatment of children, theories which see a movement from a situation where the concept of childhood was almost absent, and children were cruelly treated, to our present western recognition that children are different and should be treated with love and affection. Linda examines this thesis particularly through the close and careful analysis of some hundreds of English and American primary sources. Through these sources, she has been able to reconstruct, probably for the first time, a genuine picture of childhood in the past, and it is a much more humane and optimistic picture than the current stereotype. Her book contains a mass of novel and original material on child-rearing practices and the relations of parents and children, and sets this in the wider framework of developmental psychology, socio-biology and social anthropology. Forgotten Children admirably fulfils the aim of its author. In the face of this scholarly and elegant account of the continuity of parental care, few will now be able to argue for dramatic transformations in the twentieth century.
'This important book should mark a turning point in the study of the history of childhood. Linda Pollock's researches ... provide a much more firmly based insight into child-rearing in earlier generations than the speculative writings of the psycho historians, some of whose ideas have verged on the absurd. A number of historians have written on family relations and child-rearing in Europe since the Middle Ages. In an influential work, P. Aries (Centuries of Childhood, 1962) argued that there was no concept of childhood in the Middle Ages and that, while this gradually changed, discipline of children was often harsh. Others have gone further, concluding that 'good mothering is an invention of modernisation. In traditional society, mothers viewed the development and happiness of infants younger than two with indifference ... mothers did not love their children very much' (E. Shorter, The Making of the Modern Family, 1975 ) ... Linda Pollock's book provides a detailed and scholarly critique and re-evaluation of this view.' Bulletin of the British Psychological Society 'The author's thesis effectively challenges the prevailing scholarship on the history of childhood. Utilizing diaries and autobiographies written between 1500 and 1900, Pollock posits that 'the history of childhood is ... full of errors, distortions and misrepresentation ... [and] dominated by myths' ... She supports her position not only with authoritative research in the primary sources but also through careful attention to detail and complexity. This study deserves a prominent place on the shelves of all students of parent-child relations; it contains a wealth of pertinent data and thoughtful observations.' Choice 'Linda Pollock's study of the history of parent-child relations, as inferred from contemporary diaries and autobiographies, started life as a doctoral thesis; and, most of the time, it shows. I mean that as a compliment: for the serious reader, her book has all the advantages of having had to meet the discipline of a carefully built structure, a literature search that extends far beyond her original sources (which are themselves considerable) and a critical appraisal of previous research in her area. The study also fulfils what some of us now additionally hope for in a doctoral thesis: that it should endeavour to entertain, enlighten, and stimulate the reader (whether serious or casual) into a new look at familiar ideas as well as new speculations. Dr Pollock is to be congratulated on an effort of scholarship which involved the reading of almost 500 published diaries and 'autobiographies' (some of the latter being very short. perhaps forming the introduction to a diary), as well as a sprinkling of unpublished manuscript diaries.' British Journal of Psychology