Amy Harris

Aug 3, 2023

Share and Share Alike

Researching Sibling Relationships in Eighteenth-Century England

New Books Network 2023

What defines the complicated relationship between brothers and sisters—is it lineage? Love? Obligation? Friendship? Need? And why did so many parents expect their offspring to share and share alike? Historian Amy Harris joins us to talk about:

  • What led to her interest in researching sibling relationships.
  • Why her book project seemed to find her in an archive in England.
  • How the early stresses on sibling relationships plagued them in later life.
  • Why parents’ behavior affects how sibling relationships function.
  • A discussion of the book Siblinghood and Social Relations in Georgian England: Share and Share Alike.

Today’s book is: Siblinghood and Social Relations in Georgian England: Share and Share Alike (Manchester University Press, 2016), Dr. Amy Harris, which examines the impact sisters and brothers had on eighteenth-century English families and society. Using evidence from letters, diaries, probate disputes, court transcripts, prescriptive literature and portraiture, Dr. Harris argues that although parents’ wills often recommended their children 'share and share alike', siblings had to constantly negotiate between prescribed equality and practiced inequalities. This is the first monograph-length analysis of early modern siblings in England, and is at the forefront of sibling studies. The book is intended for a broad audience of scholars – particularly those interested in families, women, children and eighteenth-century social and cultural history.

Our guest is: Dr. Amy Harris, who is an associate professor of history and family/history genealogy at BYU, where she also serves as the director for the Family History Program.

She is the author of Siblinghood and Social Relations in Georgian England, and the co-editor of Family Life in England and America, 1690-1820. She is currently working on her new book: A Single View: Family Life and the Unmarried in Georgian England, which analyzes family relations across the lifespan of never-married men and women.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who holds a PhD in American history. She has served as content director and producer of the Academic Life since she launched it in 2020. The Academic Life is proud to be an academic partner of the New Books Network.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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