• Tanya Evans


This book has shown that hundreds of unmarried mothers in eighteenth-century London were neither abandoned and alone nor ostracised and infanticidal. London at this time was the site of spectacular economic, social and cultural change, which had volatile effects on the experience and meanings of lone motherhood. When men, money, resources and employment let women down, instead of rejecting unmarried mothers, the parish, metropolitan charities, family, friends, employers and acquaintances helped many through their pregnancies and beyond. The improvised communities of London, regenerated every day with migrants from all across the country and abroad, rarely distinguished between married and unmarried mothers. People demonstrated remarkable empathy and compassion towards these women and their children.


Eighteenth Century Poor Woman Unmarried Mother Lone Mother Emotional Insecurity 
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  1. 1.
    L.H. Lees, The Solidarities of Strangers: The English Poor Laws and the People, 1700–1948 (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 15, 20 and Chapter 3, pp. 82–111.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See L. Forman Cody, ‘The Politics of Illegitimacy in an Age of Reform: Women, Reproduction, and Political Economy in England’s New Poor Law of 1834’, Journal of Women’s History, 11, 4, Winter 2000, pp. 131–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. J. Bourne Taylor, ‘Representing Illegitimacy in Victorian Culture’, in R. Robbins and J. Wolfrey (eds), Victorian Identities: Social and Cultural Formation in Nineteenth-Century Literature (London, 1995).Google Scholar

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© Tanya Evans 2005

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  • Tanya Evans

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