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|Claire Tomalin says:
Written by Anne P
(2/10/2003 11:10 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Farming out babies, penned by Deborah Julia
Claire Tomalin's biography of JA talks about this at some length. Here are a few quotes from pages 5 - 7 of my paperback edition. Interesting that CT says this was 'unusual'. She also speculates on the effect on the children, but does say that 'bonding' is a modern term that was not considered then. She says that Jane's letters are 'defensive', and says that they lack tenderness. I'm actually studying child development and attachment at the moment - and Mrs Austen's practice would have a modern psychologist pronouncing that the children were denied a sensitive parent and that they would have trouble with relationships later on. Hmm, not sure about that.
Here's what CT says:
... Whether Mrs Austen found a wet nurse ready for each of her children in the village, or whether she felt they could be spoon-fed after their first few months of breast-feeding, we do not know; but she did use the word 'weaning' in the case of the three month old Cassandra, which suggests the latter.
... So the Austen babies were cared for in the village, fed, washed, encouraged to crawl in a cottage.
... The Austen parents are said - by a grandson - to have visited the absent babies daily, at least whenever possible, and had them brought to the parsonage regularly, which may have encouraged their children to feel that they had two families and homes where they were loved.
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