Never Married: Singlewomen in Early Modern England

Paperback | August 22, 2007

byAmy M. Froide

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Never Married: Singlewomen in Early Modern England investigates a paradox in the history of early modern England: although one third of adult women were never married, these women have remained largely absent from historical scholarship. Amy Froide reintroduces us to the category of differencecalled marital status and to the significant ways it shaped the life experiences of early modern women. By de-centring marriage as the norm in social, economic, and cultural terms, her book critically refines our current understanding of people's lives in the past and adds to a recent line ofscholarship that questions just how common 'traditional' families really were. This book is both a social-economic study of singlewomen and a cultural study of the meanings of singleness in early modern England. It focuses on never-married women in England's provincial towns, and on singlewomen from a broad social spectrum. Covering the entire early modern era, it reveals thatthis was a time of transition in the history of never-married women. During the sixteenth century life-long singlewomen were largely absent from popular culture, but by the eighteenth century they had become a central concern of English society. As the first book of original research to focus on singlewomen on the period, it also illuminates other areas of early modern history. Froide reveals the importance of kinship in the past to women without husbands and children, as well as to widows, widowers, single men, and orphans. Examining thecontributions of working and propertied singlewomen, she is able to illustrate the importance of gender and marital status to urban economies and to notions of urban citizenship in the early modern era. Tracing the origins of the spinster and old maid stereotypes she reveals how singlewomen weremarginalized as first the victims and then the villains of Protestant English society.

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From the Publisher

Never Married: Singlewomen in Early Modern England investigates a paradox in the history of early modern England: although one third of adult women were never married, these women have remained largely absent from historical scholarship. Amy Froide reintroduces us to the category of differencecalled marital status and to the significan...

Amy Froide is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County.

other books by Amy M. Froide

Format:PaperbackDimensions:254 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.63 inPublished:August 22, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019923762X

ISBN - 13:9780199237623

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Marital Status as a Category of Difference: Singlewomen and Widows3. Single But Not Alone: The Family History of Never-Married Women4. A Maid is Not Always a Servant: Singlewomen in the Urban Economy5. Women of Independent Means: The Civic Significance of Never-Married Women6. Spinsters, Superannuated Virgins, and Old Maids: Representations of Singlewomen7. The Question of Choice: How Never-Married Women Represented Singleness8. EpilogueBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition Froide's pioneering foray is a valuable exploration of an important and neglected issue'Bernard Capp, The English Historical Review