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In the Family Way: Illegitimacy Between the Great War and the Swinging Sixties: Book by Jane Robinson

In the Family Way: Illegitimacy Between the Great War and the Swinging Sixties

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ISBN: 9780670922062    Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd Year of publishing: 2015     Format:  Hardback No of Pages: 18.99        Language: English
Unmarried mothers, absent fathers, orphaned children - Jane Robinson's In the Family Way is a truly gripping book about long-buried secrets, family bonds and unlikely heroes. Only a generation or two ago,...Read more
Unmarried mothers, absent fathers, orphaned children - Jane Robinson's In the Family Way is a truly gripping book about long-buried secrets, family bonds and unlikely heroes. Only a generation or two ago, illegitimacy was one of the most shameful things that could happen in a family. Unmarried mothers were considered immoral, single fathers feckless and bastard children inherently defective. They were hidden away from friends and relations as guilty secrets, punished by society and denied their place in the family tree. Today, the concept of illegitimacy no longer exists in law, and babies' parents are as likely to be unmarried as married. This revolution in public opinion makes it easy to forget what it was really like to give birth, or be born, out of wedlock in the years between World War One and the dawn of the Permissive Age. By speaking to those involved - many of whom have never felt able to talk about their experiences before - Jane Robinson reveals a story not only of shame and appalling prejudice, but also of triumph and the every-day strength of the human spirit.
In the Family Way tells secrets kept for entire lifetimes and rescues from the shadows an important part of all our family histories. In it we hear long-silent voices from the workhouse, the Magdalene Laundry or the distant mother-and-baby home. Anonymous childhoods are recalled, spent in the care of Dr Barnardo or a Child Migration scheme halfway across the world. There are sorrowful stories in this book, but it is also about hope: about supportive families who defied social expectations by welcoming 'love-children' home, or those who were parted and are now reconciled. Most of all, In the Family Way is about finally telling the truth. Praise for Bluestockings: "A gem of a book. Social history of the best kind". (Sunday Times). "Fascinating. Inspiring. Impassioned and wonderfully entertaining". (Scotsman). Jane Robinson was born in Edinburgh and brought up in North Yorkshire. After reading English at Somerville College, Oxford, she became an antiquarian book dealer, and later a writer and lecturer.
In the Family Way is her ninth book, and like her previous work, including the acclaimed Bluestockings and A Force to Be Reckoned With, it confirms her as one of our most engaging and original social historians. Jane lives near Oxford with her husband and two sons.
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Review:
An important social history tracked through personal stories that need to be heard, and will soon be beyond memory. They are not all harrowing. Compassion breaks through the stony ground Daily...Read more
An important social history tracked through personal stories that need to be heard, and will soon be beyond memory. They are not all harrowing. Compassion breaks through the stony ground Daily Telegraph The great surprise in Jane Robinson's new history of mid-century illegitimacy is how long these opinions - the children may be blameless, but assisting them would mean condoning the intemperance of their mothers - persisted. Robinson has made contact with 100 unmarried mothers and their progeny and deftly interweaves their stories with the political and institutional history Observer A tragic litany of society's readiness to blame the most vulnerable for their own misfortunes ... In the Family Way is full of heart-wrenching stories of young women kept in ignorance of the facts of life. Robinson has a good eye for the human story and the affecting detail that brings alive the hypocritical moral landscape of the period Sunday Times Robinson has worked to give back a voice to those not traditionally allowed one ... Taken together, the individual stories of secrecy and enforced separation form a powerful testament to the hypocrisy and cruelty of our culture Independent [In the Family Way's] heart is firmly in the right place. It is a book that makes a woman want to reach for an AK47 to avenge the past; or at the very least to buy a copy to politicize their daughters -- Melanie Reid Times The closer Robinson's survey comes to our own day, the more shocking it grows ... In the Family Way is not, incidentally, without its funny side. I particularly enjoyed this Mail on Sunday Jane Robinson has managed to elicit over 100 personal accounts of illegitimacy and it is these letters and interviews that give the book its force - that, and the author's manifest warm-heartedness. The book is grounded in testimonies from real people - heartbreaking, some of them -- Melanie McDonagh Spectator In the Family Way is both engaging and incredibly moving and will strike a profound chord with many readers Sunday Express Riveting ... Part of the book's charm is its subtle interweaving of personal accounts with astute historical analysis BBC History Magazine Incredibly touching ... Robinson reveals family secrets kept for entire lifetimes. Full of poignant memories of illegitimate children brought up between WW1 and the 1960s, this is an elegant and compassionately written examination, with a thought-provoking sting in its tail Family Tree I am one of the women written about in Jane Robinson's In the Family Way. I was put in one of the homes by a mother who cared more about what the neighbours thought than how I would feel when she was taken away from me for adoption. They were awful times and Jane has done a great service by writing this book. So many people I have spoken to recently did not even know these places existed, but to myself and all the other young mothers involved they will never be forgotten. Thank you Jane for exposing it for all to see! -- Pauline Roberts (Amazon Review) Social history of the best kind Sunday Times (on 'Bluestockings') Robinson discovered many older people still damaged by being or bearing an illegitimate child. They swamped her with testimonies, but it is telling that almost all of the 100 interviewees asked to remain anonymous Telegraph, Best Non-Fiction Books of 2015
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