The title was inspired by the birth, during the writing of this volume, of a child named after the author. A second volume will bring the survey to the present and to some glimpses of that young woman's prospects. The prospect presented here is that of the sleepy young knitter of the 18th century pictured on the cover and of generations before her.
As Sandra Holton herself admits, historians of women’s suffrage, especially those whose main research interests lie with the British campaigns, frequently encounter the view that suffrage has been ‘done’ and that there really cannot be anything left to say on this topic.
Diana Spencer has a lot to answer for: suddenly, women of the landowning classes are back in vogue, possibly for the first time since the 1920s, when everyone from Virginia Woolf to Ramsay MacDonald seemed to love a lady. In academic circles, where Diana carries comparatively little weight, a more plausible trend-setter might be Stella Tillyard's Aristocrats (1994).
Amanda Vickery's new book is largely based on several rich collections of women's letters and diaries, most notably those of Elizabeth Parker Shackleton, whose family belonged to the lesser gentry and mercantile elite of Lancashire in the eighteenth century.
I come to Paula Bartley's book as someone who has for a number of years, been examining the extent and nature of prostitution in Ireland. Attitudes towards prostitutes and prostitution within Irish culture were in many ways similar to those that prevailed in England. They were also distinctly different.
"Hannah Elliett, aged about 18 years, the wife of George Elliet, upon oath says that on 31 May last, was twelve month, she, this examinant, was married to her said husband in the liberty of the Fleet, London, by whom she has a child living (named Mary), an infant aged near 3 months.
The age of the historian as public moralist is not quite past. To be sure, most of us today are content to write for each other on matters of no particular current concern and harbour little ambition to reach a lay audience, let alone convert it.
This book is impressively detailed, showing women's experience of demobilisation and the aftermath of armed conflict - an often neglected area of military study relating to women - as well as their feelings about morality, their male counterparts, uniforms, duties and a slew of other subjects.
One of the first aspects of the history of gender to be extensively researched has been, unsurprisingly, sex. A frequent meeting ground of the sexes, historians have shown how attitudes towards and practices of sexual intercourse reveal fundamental cu ltural assumptions about gender difference. But it is not only heterosexual activity that is relevant.
John Tosh's book is a signal event. It celebrates the full coming of age of the history of masculinity as a recognised academic sub-discipline. If Davidoff and Hall laid the foundations in this respect, Tosh finally establishes and opens up the field.