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Mary Kenny

Novel shows how society treated unmarried mothers

Mary Kenny


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Attitudes: a pregnant woman. Stock image posed by model. Credit: Getty Images/Maskot

Attitudes: a pregnant woman. Stock image posed by model. Credit: Getty Images/Maskot

Getty Images/Maskot

Attitudes: a pregnant woman. Stock image posed by model. Credit: Getty Images/Maskot

Historical investigations like the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report are valuable contributions to our knowledge of the past and yet anyone who wants to know what it felt like to be an unmarried mother 50 years ago could well turn their attention to a classic novel about the situation.

Margaret Drabble’s The Millstone vividly describes the dilemma of a young woman who, after just one — almost absent-minded — sexual encounter with a boyfriend, finds herself pregnant.


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