Mother: An Unconventional History

Sarah Knott

Mother: An Unconventional History
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Mother: An Unconventional History

Sarah Knott

When acclaimed historian Sarah Knott became pregnant, she started looking for a history of motherhood - only to find that no such book exists.

For centuries, historians have concerned themselves with wars and revolutions, not the everyday details of carrying and caring for a baby. These details matter – they shape our feelings and give structure to our hours. But they leave little historical trace. 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, Sarah Knott explores the changing traditions, experiences and cultural implications of motherhood. Drawing on diaries and letters, paintings and songs, Mother vividly brings to life the lost stories of both ordinary and extraordinary women - from the labour pains of a South Carolina field slave to the triumphant smile of a royal mistress pregnant with a king’s first son - to create a moving depiction of a universal and endlessly various human experience.

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