Death in the Victorian Family

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Oxford University Press, 1996 - Family & Relationships - 464 pages
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This engrossing book explores family experiences of dying, death, grieving, and mourning between 1830 and 1920. Victorian letters and diaries reveal a deep preoccupation with death because of a shorter life expectancy, a high death rate for infants and children, and a dominant Christian culture. Using the private correspondence, diaries, and death memorials of fifty-five middle and upper class families, Pat Jalland shows us how dying, death, and grieving were experienced by Victorian families, and how the manner and rituals of death and mourning varied with age, gender, disease, religious belief, family size, and class. She examines deathbed scenes, good and bad deaths, funerals and cremations, mourning rituals, widowhood, and the roles of religion and medicine. Chapters on the deaths of children and old people demonstrate the importance of the stages of the life-cycle, as well as the failure of many actual deathbeds to achieve the Christian ideal of the good death. The consolations of Christian faith and private memory, and the transformation in the ideas and beliefs about heaven, hell, and immortality are analysed. The rise and decline of Evangelicalism, the influence of unbelief and secularism, falling mortality, and the trauma of the Great War are all key motors of change in this period.
 

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Contents

The Evangelical Ideal of the Good Death
17
The Revival and Decline of the Good Christian Death
39
Bad Deaths Sudden Deaths and Suicides
59
Death and the Victorian Doctors
77
Nurses Consultants and Terminal Prognoses
98
That Little Company of Angels The Tragedies of Childrens Deaths
119
Death in Old Age
143
In Search of Good Death Death in the Gladstone and Lyttelton Families 18351915
161
Widows Gendered Experiences of Widowhood
230
Widowers Gendered Experiences of Widowhood
251
Christian Consolations and Heavenly Reunions
265
The Consolations of Memory
284
Rituals of Sorrow MourningDress and Condolence Letters
300
Chronic and Abnormal Grief Queen Victoria Lady Frederick Cavendish and Emma Haden
318
A Solitude beyond the Reach of God or Man Victorian Agnostics and Death
339
Epilogue After the Victorians Social Memory Spiritualism and the Great War
358

GRIEF AND MOURNING
191
Introduction to Part II
193
Funeral Reform and the Cremation Debate
194
The Funeral Week
210
Notes
382
Location of Manuscript Collections
443
Index
447
Copyright

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About the author (1996)


Pat Jalland is Associate Professor of History at Murdoch University, WA. From 27 January 1997 she will be Professor of History at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University. Her books include Women, Marriage, and Politics 1860-1914, which won the non-fiction prize in the 1987 Western Australia Week Literary Awards.

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