Stone, Lawrence

Stone, Lawrence
   b. 1919, Epsom
   Historian
   Lawrence Stone is the foremost contemporary British historian of the family and society in the early modern period. Now an American professor of history, Stone went to school at Charterhouse, and then studied at the Sorbonne and Christ Church, Oxford. His publications include Social Change and Revolution in England, 1540-1642 (1965), The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800 (1977), The Past and Present (1981), and Broken Lines: Separation and Divorce in England 1660-1857 (1993). Stone is a historian whose work has been cited in support of feminist revisions of history. For example, he argues that in the nineteenth century a married woman ‘was the nearest approximation in free society to a slave’. Her husband ‘could use her sexually as and when he wished, and beat her (within reason) or confine her for disobedience to any orders’. His work shows how from the Hardwicke Marriage Act (1753) onwards, the law aimed to regulate the passage of property and guard against ‘spurious issue’, men’s perennial fear that their sons and heirs are not their own. He refuses to join in the lament for the decline of the family, partly because he sees divorce as simply replacing earlier deaths.
   See also: history
   PETER CHILDS

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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