Extracts from the Introduction by Junko Mitsui-Yamamoto:---
Mrs. Ballin (Ada Sara Ballin, 1862–1906) was recognized as a foremost expert in childcare. She was also known as a dress reformer, a magazine editor and proprietor, a lecturer, and an author of advice books. She started her career as a dress reformer, but her advice on childcare covered clothing, food, shelter, education, and hygiene including expectant mothers. As The Times noted, the phrase "Ballin Baby", which indicated a healthy, beautiful and strong baby, had obtained the status of a "household word" by the turn of the century.
Mrs. Ballin tried to enlighten Victorian women, especially mothers, on the importance of hygiene and health. She also advised them in making use of novel commodities to reduce their domestic burdens and to have a more comfortable life, responding to the growth and transformation of industry, retailing and consumer activities. Her attitude seemed essentially modern, questing for rationality. Maintaining the viewpoint of a mother, an amateur expert, Mrs. Ballin had a challenged educational profile when compared with male professionals. Her works were mainly targeted at middle-class women, at the time when the middle classes grew both in number and economic power.
This reprint collection of advice books by Mrs. Ballin shows us a good paradigm of the shifting image of ideal mothers and children as well as the commodification of Victorian and Edwardian childrearing. More broadly, we get plenty of information on the practice of the contemporary "home-making" viewed from materialistic, physical and psychological viewpoints. "Science", or "the scientific approach" was one of the most fashionable and reliable standpoints for understanding and reforming various matters at that time. We can see how "science" came to be widely adopted into the daily lives of the ordinary person through the works of Mrs. Ballin. This reprinted collection will give new perspectives to those who are interested in the history of women, children, gender relations, family, education, consumption, hygiene and health …