New Book: Illegitimacy, Family, and Stigma in England, 1660-1834 by Kate Gibson

by | Sep 5, 2022 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

Dr Kate Gibson, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and member of The Bodies, Emotions and Material Culture Collective has just published a new book on the history of illegitimate birth in eighteenth-century England.

Although historians know a lot about what it was like to be an unmarried parent in this period, this book is the first study of the impact of illegitimacy on children throughout their life cycle. It examines the significance of illegitimacy in eighteenth-century English culture, and the impact of illegitimacy on children’s relationships with parents, siblings and wider family, their care and living arrangements, their education, occupation and marriage opportunities, and their sense of belonging and identity.

The book uses a wide range of sources, including novels, ballads, poor law records, legal documents, accounts, correspondence, and life-writing to investigate the experiences of illegitimate individuals across the social scale, from the children of royalty, through middling traders and professionals, to agricultural labourers. Examining illegitimacy provides new perspectives on the history of the family, of care and care work, and the operation of stigma and inequality, Kate’s book shows. Congratulations!