Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain
We live today in a culture of full disclosure, where tell-all memoirs top the best-seller lists, transparency is lauded, and privacy seems imperiled. But how did we get here?
Exploring scores of previously sealed records, Family Secrets offers a sweeping account of how shame--and the relationship between secrecy and openness--has changed over the last two centuries in Britain. Deborah Cohen uses detailed sketches of individual families as the basis for comparing different sorts of social stigma. She takes readers inside an Edinburgh town house, where a genteel maiden frets with her brother over their niece's downy upper lip, a darkening shadow that might betray the girl's Eurasian heritage; to a Liverpool railway platform, where a heartbroken mother hands over her eight-year old illegitimate son for adoption; to a town in the Cotswolds, where a queer vicar brings to his bank vault a diary--sewed up in calico, wrapped in parchment--that chronicles his sexual longings. Cohen explores what families in the past chose to keep secret and why. She excavates the tangled history of privacy and secrecy to explain why privacy is now viewed as a hallowed right while secrets are condemned as destructive.
In delving into the dynamics of shame and guilt, Family Secrets explores the part that families, so often regarded as the agents of repression, have played in the transformation of social mores from the Victorian era to the present day. Written with compassion and keen insight, this is a bold new argument about the sea-changes that took place behind closed doors.
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adoptive parents adultery Alexander Colvin Archive baby birth certificate Blakeley Britain British brother Cambridge century child Cochrane’s collusion confession Cresswell Cudlipp Daily Mirror daughter David decade December Dering Diary Divorce Court early Elizabeth England Eurasian family secrets family’s father February Francis Fowke Frank Fowke Harriett Hollond homosexual Hugh Cudlipp husband illegitimacy illegitimate India Jeremy Wolfenden John Bowlby John Bruce John Langdon Juliet Mitchell June Kornitzer Langdon Letter to Miss Lewis Litchfields lived London Lord Margaret marital Marriage Guidance married Mass-Observation middle-class Miss Hart Mission of Hope mother never Normansfield November October one’s Oswin Oxford Peggie Peter Cochrane Queen’s Proctor queer R.D. Laing Raheim Bibi Reginald Langdon-Down Report Richard Blake Brown Robert Bruce Rupert Croft-Cooke Scott-Sanderson secrecy sexual shame social Society son’s sought Susan Tavistock tion Victorian Wallis White Mughals wife Wolfenden Wolfenden Report woman women wrote young