Killing fields

A Fiery & Furious People: A History of Violence in England. By James Sharpe. Random House; 751 pages; £30.

IF ONE wants proof that the past is, indeed, a different country, it is instructive to look at the rate of baby-killing. In late-Victorian England, a fifth of all known murder victims were under a year old. Infanticide had been a common method to part with an unwanted child for centuries before abortion. Neglect was prevalent and in the most heinous cases, money provided the motive.


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