Woman Crawford, Patricia Marcia


Written by Susan Foley and Charles Sowerwine, The University of Melbourne

Patricia Clark was born in Sydney in 1941. Her father's career as a marine surveyor took the family to Melbourne when she was seven. She began studies at the University of Melbourne in 1958. In March 1962, she married the anthropologist Ian Crawford. In that year she completed a combined BA (Hons) in English and History and the couple moved to Western Australia, where Ian took a position in Aboriginal Studies at the West Australian Museum. She completed a PhD in Early Modern British history at the University of Western Australia in 1971 and was appointed a half-time Lecturer there in 1972. Her position became permanent only in 1976, when the University's ban on the employment of married women was lifted.

Patricia Crawford was awarded a Nuffield Fellowship at Oxford University in 1974. In 1977 she published an article based on her BA Honours Thesis, 'Charles Stuart, That Man of Blood' (Journal of British Studies). She produced several major articles on seventeenth-century England and the Civil War period. Her first book, Denzil Holles 1598-1680: a study of his political career (1979), won the Royal Historical Society's prestigious Whitfield Prize. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in Britain in 1981.

In the 1980s, Patricia Crawford turned increasingly to social history and to women's history, demonstrating leadership in the writing of history after 'second wave' feminism. Her renowned article in Past and Present, 'Attitudes to Menstruation in seventeenth-century England' (1981) raised a taboo subject and anticipated historians' later interest in the history of the body. Subsequently, she produced several innovative broader synthesises: Women and Religion in England 1500-1720 (1993); Women in Early Modern England 1500-1720 (with Sara Mendelson, 1998); and Women's Worlds in Seventeenth-Century England, with Laura Gowing, 2000), a major document collection illuminating the everyday lives of women.

Patricia Crawford was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences in 1993. She became the first female Professor in the History Department at the University of Western Australia in 1995. Her essays on maternity, childcare, sexual identity, sibling relations, female culture, families and paternity were collected in Blood, Bodies and Families in Early Modern England (2004). Patricia Crawford also wrote on contemporary political issues in Australia, co-authoring a history of women at the University of Western Australia and another on women in the Australian democracy. She became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2003.

With her husband Ian, Patricia Crawford produced the prize-winning Contested Country: A History of the Northcliffe Area, Western Australia (2003). This studied the region's aboriginal and European pasts, struggles over land use, and the future of the threatened karri forests. Patricia Crawford's final work, Parents of Poor Children in England 1580-1800, appeared shortly before her death in 2009. She is remembered as a leading scholar of Early Modern England whose works brought new depth to the study of women's lives and thereby transformed understanding of the period.

Published Resources

Journal Articles

  • Mendelson, Sara, 'Patricia M. Crawford, 1941-2009', History Workshop Journal, no. 71, 2011, pp. 289-292. Details

Newspaper Articles

  • Gowing, Laura, 'Patricia Crawford', The Guardian, 25 May 2009. Details

Online Resources

See also