Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Five of the best books about motherhood

Sarah Knott is a British-born feminist, writer and historian. Her first book explored how sensibility, a way of being that celebrated human sympathy, was central to the American Revolution. Sensibility and the American Revolution suggested that revolutionaries sought the transformation of citizens and society, as much as to create new republican forms of government.

Her second book, Witnessing the Age of Revolutions, 1776-1804, explores first-person narratives of events in the United States, France and Saint Domingue, as a means of telling the cultural history of the Age of Revolutions.

Knott's new book is Mother Is a Verb: An Unconventional History.

At the Guardian, she tagged five of the best books about motherhood, including:
“Safe delivered of a very fine Daughter”. We go back even further, to 18th-century Maine, in the hands of historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. A Midwife’s Tale draws on a terse diary kept for 27 years by the New England midwife Martha Ballard. She slipped the folded half-sheets of her diary into her bag when she headed out, and numbered deliveries down the diary’s left-hand margins. The women gave birth in the arms and laps of the midwife and neighbours: perhaps three women around the bed, perhaps five. Rum, sugar and tea were the usual labouring comforts. The midwife added an “XX” to the diary’s margin each time the charge was paid, in shillings, textiles or food. In almost 1,000 births, she never lost a mother during delivery.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue