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Love and Toil : Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918 - Ellen Ross

Love and Toil

Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918

Paperback Published: 25th November 1993
ISBN: 9780195083217
Number Of Pages: 336

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The feisty warm-hearted "mum" has long figured as a symbol of the working class in Britain, yet working-class history has emphasized male organizations such as clubs, unions, or political parties. Investigating a different dimension of social history, Love and Toil focuses on motherhood among the London poor in the late Victorian and Edwardian years, and on the cultures, communities, and ties with husbands and children that women created. Mothers' skills in managing the family budget, earning income, and caring for their children were critical in protecting households from the worst hardships of industrial capitalism, yet poverty or the threat of it molded intimate relationships and left its imprint on personalities. This book is also a case study demonstrating the larger argument that the concept of "motherhood" is more socially and historically constructed than biologically determined. Shaky household economics, pressure toward respectability, the close proximity of neighbors, the precariousness of infant and child life, and little chance of better lives for their children shaped the work and emotions of motherhood much more than did the biological experiences of pregnancy, birth, and lactation.
This beautifully written book, embellished with Cockney slang and music hall songs, addresses fascinating questions in the fields of women's studies, labor history, social policy, and family history.

"Ellen Ross's eagerly awaited book is a marvel of detail on all aspects of motherhood among London's poor."--Journal of Social History "Remarkable and wholly original...she evokes with extraordinary richness, authenticity and flair working-class motherhood in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century London....A book that both animates the past and clarifies the present."--The Nation "Scholars have long awaited this book...It contains nearly everything one could wish to know about London working-class family life and women's work of reproduction, biological and social."--Contemporary Sociology "Love and Toil is an extraordinary work of social and cultural history. It is also a remarkably timely book."--Transformations "Ross's long-awaited book blends individual stories and statistics with forceful argumentation to reveal the role played by urban mothers in modernizing Britain....Will be a controversial but standard text in British history and women's studies."--Choice "Ellen Ross's eagerly awaited book is a marvel of detail on all aspects of motherhood among London's poor."--Journal of Social History "Remarkable and wholly original...she evokes with extraordinary richness, authenticity and flair working-class motherhood in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century London....A book that both animates the past and clarifies the present."--The Nation "Scholars have long awaited this book...It contains nearly everything one could wish to know about London working-class family life and women's work of reproduction, biological and social."--Contemporary Sociology "Love and Toil is an extraordinary work of social and cultural history. It is also a remarkably timely book."--Transformations "Ross's long-awaited book blends individual stories and statistics with forceful argumentation to reveal the role played by urban mothers in modernizing Britain....Will be a controversial but standard text in British history and women's studies."--Choice "'Pathbreaking' has become a hackneyed phrase in describing historical academic works, but this study of motherhood among the poor in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century London is more than worthy of the phrase. For the first time, we are given a chance to view familiar phenomena--the experience of late-nineteenth century poverty, the 'rise of the welfare state,' and the decline in fertility--from the point of view of those most deeply involved, those whose voices were almost never heard until now: poor working class mothers."--Leonore Davidoff, University of Essex "It is an extraordinary work: engagingly written, richly textured, exhaustively and inventively researched, a model of social history. It brilliantly synthesizes much of the past fifteen years' work in working women's history and the history of social policy. Through telling detail and a powerful interpretative line, it magically brings to life the historiography on housing, infant welfare, and fertility, among other topics, which heretofore has generally been presented as plodding, flat description. It offers a definitive portrayal of the centrality of mothers to working-class life and social relations in poor London neighborhoods of the pre-war period and to the historic transformation of their 'labour of love' by medical experts, charity workers, and state policy by the 1920s."--Judith R. Walkowitz, The Johns Hopkins University

ISBN: 9780195083217
ISBN-10: 0195083210
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 25th November 1993
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.62 x 15.67  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.57