Infanticide in Tudor and Stuart England
Infanticide in Tudor and Stuart England
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Epigram Author's notes List of Illustrations Chapter 1: Losses, Lacunae and Liminality Chapter 2: European and Medieval Contexts of Infanticide Chapter 3: The liminal child and mother Chapter 4: Love, Law and Liminality Chapter 5: Constructing Outsiders, Constructing Killers Chapter 6: Not the Usual Suspects: Communities and Accomplices Chapter 7: Not the Usual Suspects: Married Women Chapter 8: Not the Usual Suspects: Men Chapter 9: Interlude: Infanticide 1700-1950 Chapter 10: Epilogue: Echoes of the Past Appendix 1: The 1624 Infanticide Act Appendix 2: Note on Sussex Coroners' inquests Appendix 3: Sussex Cases of Violent, Unnatural, Unexplained Infant Death 1547-1686: Complete list of cases from archival and other sources Appendix 4: Sussex Infant Deaths Involving Water Appendix 5: Sussex Infant Deaths Involving Throwing Appendix 6: Sussex Infant Deaths Involving Bloodshed or Extreme Violence Appendix 7: Sussex Infant Deaths Showing Direct Involvement of Men Index

Reviews and Features

"Infanticide in Tudor and Stuart England by Josephine Billingham aims to draw together studies of infanticide in early modern England from a variety of disciplines, including literature, history, and anthropology, in order to produce a fuller and more detailed picture of a crime that has frequently been itself a victim of too-broad brushstrokes and assumptions. While attempting to cross disciplines and expand our historical understanding of this crime is not new, Billingham lays out a strong theoretical framework for interpretation. She also succeeds in creating much needed nuance to definitions of the crime, motivations, and societal reactions."
- Margaret B. Lewis, University of Tennessee at Martin, Renaissance Quarterly, Volume LXXIV, No. 2

Josephine Billingham

Infanticide in Tudor and Stuart England

Infanticide in Tudor and Stuart England explores one of society’s darkest crimes using archival sources and discussing its representation in the drama, pamphlets and broadside ballads of the early modern period. It takes the reader on a journey through the streets and taverns where street literature was hawked, to the playhouses where the crime was dramatized, and the courts where it was tried and punished. Using a regional microstudy of coroners’ inquests and churchwardens’ presentments, coupled with theories of liminality, marginality and rites of passage, it reveals complex and contradictory attitudes to infants, women and the crime. As well as considering unwed women, the most common perpetrators of infanticide, the study shows that married women, men and the local community were also culpable, and the many reasons for this. Infanticide in Tudor and Stuart England is set in its European and historical contexts, revealing surprising continuities across time.

Josephine Billingham

Josephine Billingham has a PhD in English Literature from UCL. She is an independent scholar with particular interest in liminality, infant death, literature in its historical context, and the interplay between historical and literary sources.