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The tragi-comedy of Victorian fatherhood - Valerie Sanders

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The tragi-comedy of Victorian fatherhood
Valerie Sanders
Cambridge University Press
UK Publication Date

Examining Victorian middle-class fatherhood from the fathers' own perspective, Valerie Sanders dismantles the persistent stereotype of the nineteenth-century paterfamilias by focusing on the intimate family lives of influential public men. Beginning with Prince Albert as a high-profile patriarchal role-model, and comparing the parallel case histories of prominent Victorians such as Dickens, Darwin, Huxley and Gladstone, the book explores the strains on men in public life as they managed their private relationship with their children and found a language for the expression of their pleasure, grief and anxiety as fathers. In a context of cultural uncertainty about the legal rights and moral responsibilities of fatherhood, the study draws on a wealth of unpublished journals and letters to show how conscientious Victorian fathers in effect invented a meaningful domestic role for themselves which has been little understood.

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'[Sanders] writes well, and sagely concludes with a truism that is not conformed to a specific historical time and place, concerning 'the impossibility of being the all-powerful protector against the chance contingencies of modern life'.' Modern Language Review

' … [an] excellent book …' The Brown Book: Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

"[Sanders's] talents and energy as a researcher are prodigious and enviable, uncovering a wealth of detail about the fatherly lives of her subjects that makes for extremely compelling reading. She has examined not only published correspondence and journals--a feat of awe-inspiring magnitude in the case of Dickens, Darwin, and Gladstone--but archived materials and periodical writing as well."

-Eileen Gillooly,

Keyword Index
Fatherhood - Great Britain - History - 19th century.|Fatherhood in literature.
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