Length: 352 Pages
What was mothering like in the past?
When acclaimed historian Sarah Knott became pregnant, she asked herself this question. But accounts of motherhood are hard to find. For centuries, historians have concerned themselves with wars, politics and revolutions, not the everyday details of carrying and caring for a baby. Much to do with becoming a mother, past or present, is lost or forgotten.
Using the arc of her own experience, from miscarriage to the birth and early babyhood of her two children, and drawing on letters, diaries, court records and paintings, Sarah Knott explores the ever-changing experiences of maternity across the ages. From the labour pains felt by an enslaved woman to the triumphant smile of a royal mistress bearing a king's first son; from a 1950s suburban housewife to a working-class East Ender taking her baby to the factory; these lost stories of mothering create a moving depiction of an ever-changing human experience.
'A joy to read' New York Times
'Timely and fascinating' Amanda Foreman
'Utterly compelling' Financial Times
'Knott manages to combine scholarship with personal experience in a heartfelt and original way. Every mother-to-be should read it' Sunday Times
'Wonderful... This is history at its best: writing that unfolds the past and sheds light on the present' Financial Times
'A stunning book, riveting from beginning to end' Diane Atkinson, author of 'Rise Up Women!: The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes'
Length: 352 Pages
Wonderful... utterly compelling. This is history at its best: writing that unfolds the past and sheds light on the present
A joy to read, borne of raw curiosity and intelligence, nurtured into the world to fill a gap in understanding.
Knott manages to combine scholarship with personal experience in a heartfelt and original way. Every mother-to-be should read it
A stunning book. Mother: An Unconventional History is a dextrous blend of autobiography and anthropology and social history, but above all love and a woman's desire to be a mother. It is riveting from beginning to end
Mother is a timely and fascinating investigation into one of the most overlooked and yet fundamental human experiences. Sarah Knott expertly weaves together a narrative that succeeds in being both intensely personal but also reassuringly historical.
Lyrically evocative and richly textured, Mother sets fragments of female lives over the last four centuries in Britain and North America within a narrative of Sarah Knott's own experiences to produce a remarkable history - exploratory, pointillist, and intensely personal - of what it is, and has been, to be a mother.
In this innovative, grippingly readable history, Sarah Knott has woven a scintillating tapestry of ideas and experiences across time. Mother is a moving and enlightening meditation on the most elemental, yet ceaselessly varied, of all human bonds.
A remarkable book. Sarah Knott weaves an intimate account of becoming a mother into a richly-documented history of maternity. Eloquent and evocative, this is a book to savour and share with anyone who loves great history-writing.
This fabulous book manages both to recreate what those extraordinary early months of motherhood are like, and make sense of them by placing them in history. Knott's diary of motherhood is poetic: she conveys that sense that time has stopped, that only the baby's reflux matters, the heightened power of smell, the loss of self. The historical anecdotes Knott provides are riveting, and open up new ways of understanding what motherhood can be. The pace of it all is perfect - slow, and focused,- just as growth has its own imperceptible rhythms. This is a new kind of history-writing. A truly original, inspiring book.
Fascinating and beautifully written. A book I will feverishly press on others - both as an exploration of unheard histories and as a companion to pregnancy and early motherhood