Child Murder and British Culture, 1720–1900

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  • Edition: Revised
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-01-21
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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What is included with this book?


In this wide-ranging study, Josephine McDonagh examines the idea of child murder in British culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Analysing texts drawn from economics, philosophy, law, medicine as well as from literature, McDonagh highlights the manifold ways in which child murder echoes and reverberates in a variety of cultural debates and social practices. She places literary works within social, political and cultural contexts, including debates on luxury, penal reform campaigns, slavery, the treatment of the poor, and birth control. She traces a trajectory from Swifts A Modest Proposal through to the debates on the New Woman at the turn of the twentieth century by way of Burke, Wordsworth, Wollstonecraft, George Eliot, George Egerton, and Thomas Hardy, among others. McDonagh demonstrates the haunting persistence of the notion of child murder within British culture in a volume that will be of interest to cultural and literary scholars alike.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Note on references
List of abbreviations
Introduction: plots and protagonists
Child murder and commercial society in the early eighteenth century
'A squeeze in the neck for bastards': the uncivilised spectacle of child-killing in the 1770s and 1780s
1789/1803: Martha Ray, the mob, and Malthus's Mistress of the Feast
'Bright and countless everywhere': the New Poor Law and the politics of prolific reproduction in 1839
'A nation of infanticides': child murder and the national forgetting in Adam Bede
Wragg's daughters: child murder towards the fin de si+cle
English babies and Irish changelings
Appendix: on the identity of 'Marcus'
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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