History, Department of


Date of this Version

Fall 1994


Published in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 709-710 Copyright © 1994 The Sixteenth Century Journal. Used by permission.


John Sommerville has written a fascinating book that scholars from a number of interests and backgrounds will find valuable. His work is an intersection of the history of childhood and of religious history in early modern England. In this study, Sommerville is arguing for a much more sympathetic and positive view of Puritanism, especially in terms of how the Puritans thought about children and how they in practice related to their children. Sommerville's work is an interesting counterpoint to Linda Pollock's Forgotten Children: Parent-child Relations from 1500-1900 (1983). Pollock argued for a very harsh attitude toward, and treatment of, children in early modern England. Sommerville counters that there is less change from the early modern period to the modern age.The change Sommerville does perceive is not necessarily the actual treatment, but the greater guilt over bad treatment, and this he traces to Puritan influence.

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