It’s Advent and we’re all thinking of what we can either give or receive for Christmas Presents. These below will not necessarily make good presents to give or receive as anyone with a secret history of a baby given away or being adopted or of adopting a child might prefer her memories to remain private.

However, I do have several books on my shelves on the subject of adoption or unforseen pregnancies which I’d like to record here just in case there’s someone out there who is looking for answers which these books might provide.

I’ve already talked about A History of Adoption in England and Wales 1850-1961.  Published  by Pen and Sword, it’s also available, either new or used on Amazon. This is a history book with some personal recollections and a useful final chapter on further research into adoption. Adoption Matters

sinners? scroungers? saints? pub. Oxford University Press, is the result of thorough research carried out by Pat Thane and Tanya Evans. Much of the evidence comes from the records of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child. It is a book to select from, flag up relevant issues and keep notes on. It is expensive to buy but might be held by libraries.

The final non-fiction book is In the Family Way by Jane Robinson, who looks at illegitimacy between the Great War and the Swinging Sixties, covering a decade later than Gill Rossini. The narrative is informal and easy to read. I have more stickers indicating places of interest in this book than the other two.

Finally two memoirs: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson charts the writer’s relationship with the woman who adopted her and her own search for information about her birth. It’s compelling, amusing and sad.


The second one, Bad Blood by Lorna Sage, is a straightforward account of her life with her parents and her grandparents during the 1950s. By November 1959, not yet 18, Lorna was applying for a university place and pregnant. Soon she was married as well. Lorna died in January 2001.

4 thoughts on “Books

  1. Claire 'Word by Word' says:

    Interesting collection, I’ve just read Bad Blood and was fascinated by the pregnancy story, which gets so few pages, and yet it is the alternative story of what is can be like for a 16 year old who discovers she is pregnant, who is supported rather than shamed by her family, even if it did initially appear to be ‘ruining their life’, actually no it didn’t, what an incredible story, that the two of them go on to complete their university studies, graduate and pursue exactly the kind of careers they always wanted. The daughter, in her interview 10 years after her mother’s death seems to have fond recollections of her childhood, just as Lorna did. Thanks for sharing your collection Jane. 🙂


    • janehaywardwriter says:

      Claire. Thank you for such encouraging support. Sometimes I wonder why I’m writing it all down! This w/end’s blog is more reading, rather more lighthearted. I’ll look at your website today. Last minute corrections to the cover of my book are at the top of my agenda! Jane


  2. Claire 'Word by Word' says:

    No need to wonder if you enjoy it. I have days where it’s too hard to write what I tell myself I should be writing, so I write on my blog which exists without expectations, total freedom, yet still exercises the writing muscle. I love it.


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