Detective Fictions: The ‘baby-farming detective’ in Britain, 1867–97

Hinks, Jim (2022) Detective Fictions: The ‘baby-farming detective’ in Britain, 1867–97. Journal of Victorian Culture, 27 (1). pp. 15-29. ISSN 1355-5502

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Abstract

This article examines a series of investigations into the activities of women engaged in the provision of paid childcare and collectively labelled with the term ‘baby-farmer’. This paper looks at the practice of writers representing themselves as ‘baby-farming detectives’. Along with exploring the use of the detective investigation as a stylistic device, it will contend that the strictures it imposed informed the relationship these writers have with paid child-carers. The article also explores how the notion of ‘detectives’ and ‘suspects’ spoke of an assumed right to subject working-class women to inspection. It concludes that these detective fantasies were ultimately unsuccessful as they were unable to solve either the cases they encountered, or the symbolic problem of baby-farming, leaving these narratives curiously unresolved and their writers impotent. This article not only seeks to explain how and why the link between pecuniary childcare and infant murder was forged and maintained but asserts that this narrative technique has wider implications for scholars of nineteenth-century culture.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: bmj,nspcc,baby-farming,childcare,detection,detective fiction,nineteenth century,cultural studies,history,visual arts and performing arts,literature and literary theory,sdg 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3316
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2022 11:38
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2022 05:33
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/86797
DOI: 10.1093/jvcult/vcab044

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