University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

“No Crime to Kill a Bastard–Child”: Stereotypes of Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century England and Wales

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntersections of Gender, Class, and Race in the Long Nineteenth Century and Beyond
EditorsBarbara Leonardi
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-96770-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-96769-1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Dec 2018

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


This chapter explores how infanticide cases were interpreted through an explicitly gendered lens in nineteenth-century England and Wales. It focuses in particular on three key aspects: the spectre of the death penalty, the issue of poverty and deprivation, and mental illness. Drawing on a range of sources including archival criminal justice records, newspapers, Parliamentary Papers, and medical and legal texts, Grey demonstrates how a crime which might have been understood as an especially heinous and deviant act became, instead, stereotyped as a killing committed almost exclusively by “normal” and “respectable” women who were then invariably recipients of both official and popular sympathy. It concludes that nineteenth-century attitudes and ideas still resonate strongly in the reportage and judicial treatment of infanticide in the twenty-first century.


© The Author(s) 2018.

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