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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? – Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?: Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England

Pat Thane and Tanya Evans


This is the first attempt to describe the real lives of unmarried mothers, and attitudes to them, in England from the First World War to the present. We focus on England because the legal position, and other circumstances, of unmarried mothers were often very different elsewhere in Britain. It uses women’s own life stories, among many other sources, to challenge stereotypes of the mothers as all desolate women, rejected by society and by their families, until social attitudes were transformed in the ‘permissive’ 1960s. It shows the diversity of their lives, their social backgrounds, and how of ... More

Keywords: unmarried mothers, lone mothers, illegitimacy, voluntary action, family history, welfare history, charity

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199578504
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199578504.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Pat Thane, author
Research Professor in Contemporary History, Kings College, London

Tanya Evans, author
Research Fellow, Macquarie University