There are now many studies of family letters in Europe, but most of them focus on marital letters and letters between parents, especially mothers, and their sons. Little attention has been paid to the letters to and from daughters. This volume seeks to begin filling that gap by exploring the continuities and changes evident in the letters written between mothers and daughters over several centuries. Some of these changes reflect the history of letters and the ways that they were written and delivered, especially the move from the use of scribes and couriers in the medieval and early modern period, which made both the writing and reading of letters a public affair, to the use of pens and the situation in which letters were able to be written in private and read only by the person to whom they were addressed. But the letters also reveal the changing nature of the mother and daughter relationship, as the formal and more distant ties evident in the early period, in which dynastic and other matters were often more important to a mother than her daughter’s personal happiness, were replaced by closer and more intimate ties and a concern with particular personalities and individual needs. This book was originally published as a special issue of Women’s History Review.
Table of Contents
Introduction Letters between Mothers and Daughters Barbara Caine
1. Poor Maternity: Clare of Assisi’s letters to Agnes of Prague Clare Monagle
2. Social Negotiations in Correspondence between Mothers and Daughters in Tudor and Early Stuart England James Daybell
3. What’s Love Got to Do with It? Dynastic Politics and Motherhood in the Letters of Eleonora of Aragon and her Daughters Carolyn James
4. ‘My daughter, my dear’: the correspondence of Catherine de Médicis and Elisabeth de Valois Susan Broomhall
5. Tenderness, Tittle-tattle and Truth in Mother–Daughter Letters: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Mary Wortley Montagu Stuart, Countess of Bute, and Lady Louisa Stuart Diana G. Barnes
6. ‘A conscientious and well-informed Victorian mother’: Elizabeth Gaskell’s letters to her daughters Pauline Nestor
7. From ‘Dearest Mama’ to ‘Dear Mother’: changing styles in early twentieth-century letters from daughters to mothers Barbara Caine
Barbara Caine is Professor of History and Head of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her previous publications include Histories of British feminism, collective biographies of the Potter and Strachey families and a general book on biography and history.