The Essay

Episode 4. The Free Thinking Essay: New Generation Thinkers: Emma Griffin

Radio Times
Review by:
Jane Anderson

While it is impossible to answer the question “What makes a good mother?”, every woman who has given birth to a child has doubted her own capabilities at some point. New Generation Thinker Emma Griffin — senior lecturer in history at the University of East Anglia — looks to working-class families in Victorian Britain to challenge our modern view of what makes a good mother.

Her research into testimonies given during the Industrial Revolution backs up commonly held beliefs on the social misery experienced by the poor but also challenges preconceptions about how the benefits and costs of industrialisation affected women. Fascinating stuff.

About this programme

Historian Emma Griffin, one of Radio 3's New Generation Thinkers, gives a talk on what makes a good mother today, recorded at the Free Thinking Festival. She explores parenting in Victorian Britain and finds that modern values and ideas about motherhood may not be as instinctive as we like to believe.