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Sisters come second

Dinah Birch: Siblings, 26 April 2012

Thicker than Water: Siblings and Their Relations 1780-1920 
by Leonore Davidoff.
Oxford, 449 pp., £35, November 2011, 978 0 19 954648 0
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... means that they often fragment. Family life was very different in the 19th century. What Leonore Davidoff calls the ‘long family’ – a succession of children with birthdates spanning a period of twenty years or more – was common. The change has been radical, and its consequences far-reaching. Yet, as ...

Clean Clothes

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 March 1988

Scottish Lifestyle 300 Years Ago 
by Helen Kelsall and Keith Kelsall.
John Donald, 224 pp., £10, September 1986, 0 85976 167 3
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Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 
by Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall.
Hutchinson, 576 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 09 164700 2
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... The Kelsalls and Davidoff and Hall are worker pairs who have been looking into the family life of a restricted group over a halfcentury or so, using a wide range of the documentation generated by their subjects. Both groups studied were experiencing insecurity. The Scottish families were of landed class, made insecure by sudden changes in politics and in the control and policy of the Church; the English families a century later were of the emerging middle class, busy creating niches in the professions and in the world of manufacturing business ...

A Girl’s Right to Have Fun

Susan Pedersen: Young Women at Work Between the Wars, 5 October 2006

Young Women, Work and Family in England 1918-50 
by Selina Todd.
Oxford, 272 pp., £50, September 2005, 0 19 928275 7
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... we spent so much time ‘finding the women’ left out of the master narrative, and then – as in Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall’s Family Fortunes or Anna Clark’s The Struggle for the Breeches – attempting to rewrite it with gender at its heart. That project succeeded. But by the time ‘gendered’ social history had arrived, social history ...

Dismantling the class war

Paul Addison, 25 July 1991

The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol I.: Regions and Communities 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 608 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25788 3
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The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol II.: People and Their Environment 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 392 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25789 1
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The Temper of the Times: British Society since World War Two 
by Bill Williamson.
Blackwell, 308 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 631 15919 3
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... division of labour between the sexes. But there is no chapter on the subject. In Volume Two Leonore Davidoff has much to say on the domestic role of women in her chapter on the family. In Volume Three R.J. Morris discusses the ‘gender frontier’ in a chapter on clubs and societies. But with the best will in the world it is hard to discern the ...

Manly Voices

Bernard Porter: Macaulay & Son, 22 November 2012

Macaulay and Son: Architects of Imperial Britain 
by Catherine Hall.
Yale, 389 pp., £35, October 2012, 978 0 300 16023 9
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... or clichéd away. Here, building on Family Fortunes, her groundbreaking book of 1987 (written with Leonore Davidoff), Hall describes Macaulay’s family context at some length, analyses it sensitively, and relates it convincingly to his career and work. (It’s the reason, I think, and a good one, for her calling him Tom, as his family did.) The result is ...


Marilyn Butler: What Jane Austen Read, 5 March 1998

Jane Austen: A Life 
by David Nokes.
Fourth Estate, 578 pp., £20, September 1997, 1 85702 419 2
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Jane Austen: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 341 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 670 86528 1
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... in this journal in 1995, to Family Fortunes (1987), a suggestive work of social history by Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, which shows how many wives, sisters and daughters, especially from clergy and military families, were writing at this time. Worse, they fill in her reading as a girl but afterwards cut her off from intellectual ...

A Little Pickle for the Husband

Michael Mason, 1 April 1999

Beeton's Book of Household Management 
by Isabella Beeton.
Southover, 1112 pp., £29.95, November 1998, 9781870962155
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... tendency towards an increasing demarcation of male and female domestic roles – as traced by Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall – swung back in the opposite direction after the mid-century. But if domestic practice was unchanged, what are we to make of the bold talk about the ‘incarnate anachronism’ of the kitchen-bound wife, and of the feast ...

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