Louise Bourgeois: Midwife to the Queen of France: Diverse Observations

The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, Vol. 56

Louise Bourgeois: Midwife to the Queen of France: Diverse Observations

Edited by Alison Klairmont Lingo
Translated by Stephanie O'Hara
2017 | 452 + xx pp. | 978-0-86698-576-5 | Paperback 6 x 9 in
MRTS 520 | $59.95 |

OVEME v.56.
Diverse Observations is a groundbreaking book available for the first time in English. Written by a midwife committed to improving the care of women and newborns, it records the evolution of Bourgeois’s practice and beliefs, comments on changing attitudes related to reproductive health, and critiques the gendered elitism of the early modern medical hierarchy.

Translated by Stephanie O'Hara
Edited by Alison Klairmont Lingo

Winner of the 2018 SSEMW Josephine Roberts Award for a Scholarly Edition


This edition makes an excellent contribution to scholarship on midwife Louise Bourgeois, who provides an incisive eyewitness account of a turbulent period in early modern France and a rare female perspective on the city of Paris from the “poorest she” to the world of the court. Alison Klairmont Lingo’s introduction, supporting notes, and medical glossary offer precious apparatuses for the presentation and interpretation of the text. Stephanie O’Hara’s translation demonstrates mastery of the scientific, technical, and colloquial vocabularies of the period, capturing the spirit of Bourgeois’s words while making them widely accessible.
—Susan Broomhall
Director, Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, The University of Western Australia


The Diverse Observations of Louise Bourgeois is a fascinating and rare source on women’s lives and the history of obstetrics in early modern France. In vivid prose, Bourgeois leads us deep into the ups and downs of childbirth and her own discoveries as a celebrated midwife. Many thanks to Alison Klairmont Lingo and Stephanie O’Hara for this splendid translation and this wide-ranging introduction to Bourgeois, her writing, and her craft.
—Natalie Zemon Davis
Henry Charles Lea Professor of History emeritus, Princeton University