History, Department of



Published in ALBION: A QUARTERLY JOURNAL CONCERNED WITH BRITISH STUDIES, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring, 1995), pp. 121-122. Copyright © 1995 Appalachian State University, published by University of Chicago Press. Used by permission


Anne Laurence's study of the social history of women in early modem England has much to recommend it, though it will probably be much more appealing for students than for scholars doing serious research. The purpose of this book, as Laurence states it, is to examine the experience of a wide variety of women, and how expectations about women may have changed between 1500 and 1760, from the Reformation to the Industrial Revolution. The goals in her study include not only seeing the differences between male and female experience but also the differences as well as shared experience for women depending on class, marital status, location, religion, and ethnic/racial background. The book is organized in thematic sections: historians' views of women; gender, class, and race; women's life cycles; marriage; sex; motherhood and friendship; health; work; material culture; leaming; religious communities and practice of Christianity; popular belief and custom; law; crime; and women's and men's worlds. ... Unfortunately, Laurence has very few notes, and only provides a rather sketchy general guide for further reading, but someone who wants a well-written and interesting introduction to the lives of women in early modern England will certainly find it here.

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