This engrossing book explores family experiences of dying, death, grieving, and mourning in the years between 1830 and 1920. So many Victorian letters, diaries, and death memorials reveal a deep preoccupation with death which is both fascinating and enlightening. Pat Jalland has examined the correspondence, diaries, and death memorials of fifty-five families to show us deathbed scenes of the time, good and bad deaths, the roles of medicine and religion, children's deaths, funerals and cremations, widowhood, and mourning rituals.
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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.About the Author:
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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