Our session featured Isabel talking about Mary Tudor and her two false pregnancies, and Anna introducing people to her work on Mary’s story. Anna also had some of these pieces in the Fertility Fest exhibition, one of which you can see here.
We were followed by the amazing Emma Cunniffe, who was talking about her experience of playing the role of Queen Anne, in a play of that name by playwright Helen Edmundson. She read from the play, talking particularly about the question of grief and how it affects the different characters very differently.
We were joined in discussion, after our presentations by Julia Bueno and Tracey Loughran. Julia is an experienced psychotherapist, who specializes in fertility issues. She is currently writing a much-needed book on miscarriage, using her experience of helping her clients in the aftermath. Tracey is an academic historian at the University of Essex. She has published a crucial collection of essays on the history of infertility and leads a Wellcome Trust funded project on women’s health in the twentieth century.
The audience was great, asking us really hard and interesting questions. Someone asked about what sort of oral histories were being collected now by historians. One person commented on how quickly women’s horizons of expectation in relation to family had changed between recent generations. Another noted how different ideas about infertility were in other cultures (her example was Spain as compared to the UK). One person asked about how far we could think about much older historical cultures as ‘closer to nature’. These have left me with much food for thought about how to move forward in our future research into un-pregnancy.
Read more about the Fertility Fest exhibition in this article by Moya Crockett at the Stylist Magazine. Anna’s work was amongst the work of other artists, who are thinking through reproductive technology, and the experiences of infertility and miscarriage.