Whether or not, as Edward Shorter claims, good mothering is an invention of modern culture, 1 surely the urge to dictate new and better methods of taking care of children is a recent obsession. The disintegration of traditional familial and communal lifestyles wrought by industrialization had led to great instability and insecurity about child-raising practices in the industrialized world. Every generation of twentieth-century mothers has been handed professional advice, childrearing manuals, and new, scientifically-authorized child development theories. According to Jessie Bernard, modern middle-class motherhood, which assigns "sole responsibility for child care to the mother" and attributes the social, moral, physical, and spiritual development, positive or negative, of the child almost exclusively to the quality of the mother-child relationship, is "new and unique" to our century. This image of the ideal, ever-present, ever-loving, all-responsible mother was, according to Bernard, "a nineteenth-century Victorian creation" (cited Helterline 590-591). An examination of the ways in which British Victorian novelists who were mothers themselves contributed to this new idealization of motherhood can help us to understand not only how a functional model of motherhood was created and came to be accepted in our century but also how our mid-and late-twentieth-century ideology of motherhood has affected how we interpret Victorian representations of motherhood.