Naval Wives & Mistresses
Date of publication: August 2011
Publisher: The History Press
An innovative study of naval women who stayed at home while their men went to sea. Focusing on the second half of the 18th century, a period when Britain was almost continuously at war, this book looks at different social groups, from the aristocratic elite to the labouring and criminal poor, prostitutes and petty thieves.
Drawing on a range of material from personal letters to trial reports, from popular prints to love tokens, it exposes the personal cost of warfare and imperial ambition. It also reveals the opportunities for greater self-determination that some women were able to grasp, as the responsibility for maintaining the home and bringing up children fell squarely on them in their husbands’ absence.
The text includes many voices from the past and throws fresh light on an under-researched aspect of women’s history.