Women in Early Modern England 1550-1720 (Paperback)

by Sara Heller Mendelson, Patricia Crawford

Format: Paperback 480 pages

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What was life like for women who lived in Tudor and Stuart England? This fascinating book provides a colourful and comprehensive account of the daily experiences of these women, using first-hand sources such as diaries, letters, and household accounts. The authors investigate the varying expectations and opportunities that existed at different stages of women's lives; and examine a range of different themes: the role of female friendships and networks of support or censure; the ways in which women were affected by prevailing gender stereotypes; the diverse roles of women in the religious and political movements of the times. The book focuses on the preoccupations of ordinary women, comparing the hand-to-mouth existence of the poorest with the ambitions and activities of those from wealthier backgrounds. These views on the world - the outlook of that half of the population usually hidden from the historical record - provide a valuable new perspective on the history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-centu

Publisher and industry reviews

Jacket review

... a rich, full and stimulating analysis of many aspects of women's lives during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ... very clearly structured throughout ... Mendelson and Crawford's book is wide-ranging and sophisticated, and should be widely read. It will serve both as an invaluable teaching companion and, with its immensely detailed bibliography (which is especially good as a guide to manuscripts and unpublished doctoral work), as a useful tool for further research for many years to come. Journal of Early Modern History ... an important new feminist study of women in early modern England by two of the leading social historians in their field ... offers both a valuable synthesis and a fresh insight into areas until recently little studied. Particularly useful are the sections on single women and the chapter on female culture, which includes fascinating discussion of speech and material culture. The book also provides an important theoretical framework for women's history, one that is genuinely innovative conceptually and methodologically. Journal of Early Modern History This is an important book which is sure to become influential in our understanding of women's history ... it contains much that is subtle, interesting, and innovative; it moves our understanding of women's lives forwards, providing a position from which to start new debates. This book should become the core text for all courses in early modern England and required reading for any student covering early modern England more generally. Jane Whittle, University of Exeter It is the extraordinary achievement of Crawford and Mendelson to have demolished the arguments about lack of sources for the lives of early modern Englishwomen once and for all ... Mendelson and Crawford have set out to write a history of "women's experience". This vivid, highly readable book, the product of the two authors' research energies over the past twenty or so years, gives just that ... A major scholarly achievement, it provides a detailed account of the lives of English women which has the depth of local study, and which goes far beyond interpretation of gender ideology as it is found in advice books or prescriptive sources ... it is a tribute to this ground-breaking book that it contrives always to open up new questions for research while providing the most authoritative account we are likely to have of the lives of women in early modern England. Lyndal Roper, Times Literary Supplement ... an excellent book and highly recommended. Parergon

UK Kirkus review

Drawing together all the latest work and combining it with original research, this book provides a comprehensive account of almost every aspect of women's lives in Tudor and Stuart England. Scholarly and yet readable it is highly recommended as the best introduction to the subject. Its splendidly illustrated pages discuss female experience from childhood and adolescence, to married or single adulthood, and old age. The authors explore female culture, identities and solidarities; women at work and at home, in public and in private. They illustrate how those whom society prescribed to be 'the weaker sex' fashioned productive, meaningful and even independent lives within the confines of a patriarchal system. The result is a learned, accessible and stimulating read. (Kirkus UK)

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Oxford University Press


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