Colin Heywood's rich account of childhood from the early Middle Ages to the First World War provides a concise and readable synthesis of the extensive literature on childhood. He gives a long-run historical perspective on the key dimensions to childhood, including ideas on the nature of the child, relationships with parents, interactions with others of a similar age, and children's health, working life and education. The period covered runs from the early Middle Ages to the First World War, and the geographical spread runs from North America in the west to Russia in the east.
This new, comprehensively updated edition incorporates the findings of the most recent research, and in particular revises and expands the sections on theoretical developments in the 'new social studies of childhood', on medieval conceptions of the child, on parenting and on children's health. Rather than merely narrating their experiences from the perspectives of adults, Heywood incorporates children's testimonies, 'looking up' as well as 'down'. Paying careful attention to the elements of continuity as well as change in this field, Heywood argues that there is a cruel paradox at the heart of childhood in the past; on the one hand, material conditions for children have greatly improved, on the other, the business of preparing for adulthood has become more complicated in urban and industrial societies, and the young now face a bewildering array of choices and expectations.
A History of Childhood, 2nd Edition will be an essential introduction to the subject for students of history, social sciences and cultural studies.