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'
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
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
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.
From miscarriage to the birth of her children, historian Sarah Knott draws on her personal experiences alongside a collection of fascinating material to explore the evolution of motherhood across the ages. Here, she tells the lost stories of ordinary women.