Book Review: The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580-1720 by Hannah Newton

I purchased this book in Cambridge while I was on my honeymoon, I couldn’t resist one of the many many history books the store contained. The book is The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580-1720 by Hannah Newton.

The Sick Child

The book explores the medical perceptions and treatment of children by medical professionals, laypeople and the children themselves. It also explores the differences in how children were treated, whether boys and girls were treated differently due to their gender.

The author treats the material with sensitivity and clarity. The language is accessible, however, as this was also used for Ms Newton’s PhD thesis it obviously uses academic, historical and medical terms where necessary. I would not recommend reading this book if you get bored by discussion of historical sources! In some ways, this book honours the children she studies, they are taken from the historical sources and their old journals, and given a voice again. There is a cheeky moment where it is pointed out that children in 1580 still sometimes faked sick to get out of school, as I’m sure some do now.

I enjoyed reading this book and will look for history books on similar topics for future reading. If I was handing out ratings, I would give it a 4.5/5.

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