Agnes Scott College

Jean Ayling (alias for Dorothy Wrinch)

The Retreat from Parenthood
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1930

Forward (Excerpts)

In the earlier pages of this book, the author has permitted herself the liberty of making an exposé of certain typical "happy" homes of England. These private places, though an unexpectedly rich mine of information with regard to present-day ideas and tendencies, and an undoubtedly intriguing subject to the anthropologists of to-day and the historian of to-morrow, were not the prime objective. The presented themselves for investigation in answer to a question which faces the student of current events: Why is it that, during the last twenty or thirty years, doctors and lawyers, scientists and civil servants, engineers and educationalists, artists and architects, and all the rest of the men and women who earn their living in professional fields, have so severely curtailed their fertility?


It is not difficult to account for the retreat from parenthood when the determining factors have been abstracted from this material.

Among these, pride of place must be given to three: the prevalence of the idea that, from the womb to the school door, the needs of the child in this group must be supplied within the family as a unit; the fact that, in so many cases, women determined to breed have to pay the price of exile form professional fields; the further fact that, in so many cases, women determined on a professional life-work have to pay the price of sterility.


In the second part of this book, the author has accordingly sketched a scheme—one perhaps of many—for arresting the decline of breeding among professional workers....


Book I: These Happy Homes
  1. After the Wedding
  2. The Royal Breeders' Club or The Breeding Associations
  3. "Home are Hell"
  4. This "Interesting Condition"
  5. Inevitable Consequences
  6. The Commercial Age
  7. The Plight of the Fathers
  8. What of the Children?
  9. The Darker Side of Motherhood
  10. The Mothers who Might Have Been
  11. The Advantages of a Profession
  12. "The Quality of the Empire's Animals"
  13. Chaos—and a Story
  14. Conflict
  15. The Sauce of Sacredness
Book II: The Rationalization of Child Rearing
  1. Breeding the New Children
  2. This Virgin Field
  3. The Child Rearing Services—and the C.R.S.A.
  4. The C.R.S.B.
  5. The C.R.S.C.
  6. The C.R.S.D.
  7. The C.R. Institute
  8. Evelyn and Angela
  9. The A.B.C. of Gestation
  10. Safeguarding the Bloom
  11. Limits of the Parental Function
  12. Mishandling the Young
  13. "Death from Starvation"
  14. Women in the Professions
  15. The Junior Camps
  16. Co-operation in the C.R.S.
  17. The Young Consumers
  18. Surveying the Field