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During the 19th century, motherhood was frequently seen as a woman’s core purpose and destiny. But the physical realities of childbearing remained a taboo subject, with the practical details of giving birth, pregnancy and the postnatal body almost entirely absent from public conversation.
Speaking with Isabel Davis, Jessica Cox will provide a fascinating insight into the maternal experience of Victorian women.
Drawing on accounts of women across the social spectrum, from Queen Victoria herself to the inhabitants of the workhouse, she will explore how women of the era experienced fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, infant loss, breastfeeding and post-natal health.
Jessica Cox is an academic in the Department of Arts and Humanities at Brunel University, London, where she teaches and researches 19th-century literature and culture. She has authored books on Charlotte Bronte, and Victorian and contemporary popular fiction.
Isabel Davis is an academic at the Natural History Museum, where her research concerns the history of human fertility. She has a book for a general audience due out with MIT Press in 2024, Conceiving Histories: Trying for Pregnancy Past and Present.