1st Edition

Infanticide Historical Perspectives on Child Murder and Concealment, 1550–2000

Edited By Mark Jackson Copyright 2002

    The history of infanticide from the 16th through to the late 20th century is the subject of this volume. Collectively, the contributions explore how the concealment of pregnancy, birth and death, particularly by unmarried women, became a central preoccupation of witnesses, doctors, courts and legislatures concerned with suspicious infant deaths. While the emphasis is upon Britain, original and stimulating accounts of infanticide accusations and trials in France, Germany, and South Africa provide compelling comparative analyses. Presenting a series of case studies, successive chapters expose striking continuities, across both time and space, in the social history of infanticide. Clearly written, focusing on a range of original cases and documents, and addressing critical historiographical questions, Infanticide will be invaluable to historians and students researching the social history of medicine, law, crime, and gender. In addition, it will appeal to lawyers, doctors, and others interested in understanding the historical roots of modern debates about infanticide.

    Contents: The trial of Harriet Vooght: continuity and change in the history of infanticide, Mark Jackson; Accusations of infanticide on the eve of the French Wars of Religion, Luc Racaut; Infanticide in early modern England: the Court of Great Sessions at Chester, 1650-1800, J.R. Dickinson and J.A. Sharpe; `The unfortunate maid exemplified': Elizabeth Canning and representations of infanticide in 18th-century England, Amy L. Masciola; Bodies of evidence, states of mind: infanticide, emotion, and sensibility in 18th-century England, Dana Rabin; Infanticide and the erotic plot: a feminist reading of 18th-century crime, Johanna Geyer-Kordesch; Infanticide, slavery, and the politics of reproduction at Cape Colony, South Africa, in the 1820s, Patricia van der Spuy; The murder of Thomas Sandles: meanings of a mid-19th-century infanticide, Margaret L. Arnot; Getting away with murder? Puerperal insanity, infanticide and the defence plea, Hilary Marland; Images and impulses: representations of puerperal insanity and infanticide in late Victorian England, Cath Quinn; The boundaries of Her Majesty's Pleasure: discharging child murderers from Broadmoor and Perth Criminal Lunatic Department, c.1860-1920, Jonathan Andrews; Legislating for human nature: legal responses to infanticide, 1860-1938, Tony Ward; "Nothing in between": modern cases of infanticide, Julie Wheelwright; Index.


    Mark Jackson

    '... insightful studies of aspects of this interesting area of social history.' Parergon '... excellent collection of essays...' Continuity and Change 'Overall, the volume is an important contribution to the understanding of infanticide in a historical perspective.' Medical History 'The strength of this collection is the range of time periods, regions, circumstances, and evidence explored by contributors, whose attention to the details of specific cases bring the issues to life.' Albion