Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?: Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England

Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?: Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England

by Pat Thane, Tanya Evans
     
 

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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? is the first book to describe the real lives of unmarried mothers, and attitudes towards them, in England from the First World War to the present day. Pat Thane and Tanya Evans use biographies and memoirs, as well as archives and official sources, to challenge stereotypes of the mothers as desolate women, rejected by society and by

Overview

Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? is the first book to describe the real lives of unmarried mothers, and attitudes towards them, in England from the First World War to the present day. Pat Thane and Tanya Evans use biographies and memoirs, as well as archives and official sources, to challenge stereotypes of the mothers as desolate women, rejected by society and by their families, until social attitudes were transformed in the 'permissive' 1960s. They demonstrate the diversity of their lives, their social backgrounds, and how often they were supported by their families, neighbours, and the fathers of their children before the 1960s, and the continuing hostility by some sections of society since then. They challenge stereotypes, too, about the impact of war on sexual behaviour, and about the stability of family life before the 1960s.

Much of the evidence comes from the records of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child, set up by sympathetic men and women in 1918 to help a social group they believed were neglected, and which is still very active today, as Gingerbread, supporting lone parents in need of help. Their work tells us not only about the lives of those mothers and children who had no other support, but also another important story about the vibrancy of voluntary action throughout the past century and its continuing vital role, working alongside and in co-operation with the Welfare State to help mothers into work, among other things. Their history is an inspiring example of how, throughout the past century, voluntary organizations in the 'Big Society' worked with, not against, the 'Big State'.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A]n engaging study of the intersection of English attitudes, social trends, and public policy as it relates to unmarried mothers and their children. ... [T]he authors provide insight into an important aspect of society, culture, and politics while demonstrating the continuity of English society and attitudes toward unmarried parents and their children." —Historian

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199681983
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Pat Thane is Research Professor in Contemporary History, Kings College London

Tanya Evans is Research Fellow, Macquarie University

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