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Without Child: Challenging the Stigma of Childlessness
Random House/Ballantine Books, 1996
Taylor & Francis/Routledge, 1999
Published in Taiwan, 2001

Argo Navis, 2013; Ingram Spark, 2017

Without Child offers the childfree woman the life-affirming story of herself. It examines her relationship to mothers and mothering, to her femininity, to men, to achievement, to her body, and to old age. It also explores the facts and fallacies about childlessness, and why women can and do embrace this choice. Wide-ranging and philosophical, yet intimate and clear-sighted, it reassures millions of women that they are not alone, not unusual, and, in fact, are part of a long and honorable tradition.


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Reviews of Without Child 

"Laurie Lisle, by telling her own story and struggle of living childless in a childbearing world, has given a voice to all of us...She bravely and unapologetically talks about issues rarely discussed...It is a fascinating exploration...one feels the electricity and importance of these facts and they jump from the page right into your lap. After reading Without Child, I am armed with fact and knowledge that there were others before me  that fought this stigma, and I will proudly continue the fight."
~ Stephanie Dickison, Canadian Women's Studies


"This book is a pleasure to read, seamlessly weaving together personal narrative with a variety of literary, historical, and cross-cultural examples of childlessness and responses to it...[It examines] woman and childlessness in relation to 'maiden aunts' (or traditions of women outside motherhood), to women's own mothers, to real and imagined children, to men and heterosexuality, to 'Womanhood,' to work, and to maturity and aging."
~ Abby Wilkerson, Hypatia

“The ‘rejection of parenthood,’ as the author of this carefully researched study found, ‘is a delicate and even dangerous topic’...She points to the many ways a woman’s childlessness, often perceived as selfish, can promote and nurture life-enhancing relationships." ~ Publisher’s Weekly

"At last, an intelligent analysis of the powerful societal pressure upon women to become mothers. Laurie Lisle has written a timely book assuring us that the true definition of womanhood need not include childbirth.” ~ Carolyn Heilbrun, author, Writing a Woman’s Life

"This book is a must read for anyone interested in ensuring that women with and without children have freedom to pursue happiness as they themselves define it." ~ Pamela W. Garner, Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

“Lisle establishes a historical context for women without children, thus revealing a much neglected yet crucial aspect of women’s history...infused with sense and sensibility.” ~ Booklist


"Laurie Lisle has given us an eloquent and insightful discussion of childlessness and women who end up--by design or default--remaining without child." ~ Anne T. Fleming, Motherhood Deferred  


From the Introduction:

"I first began to think about writing this book as I approached the age of forty, a watershed birthday in regard to childbearing..."


"I wanted to examine the nature of modern mothering and why it was so difficult to believe its ancient promise of female fulfillment..."


"I pledged to describe the illusionary, perfect child of my imagination, the dream that made it troublesome to give up the idea of pregnancy..."


"I hoped to explore the experience of femininity outside of motherhood, a topic that had never been addressed as far as I knew..."


"I would end by investigating what women without children can expect in middle and old age..."


"In contemporary America, it seemed wiser for me, and more responsible toward an unconceived child, to remain childless--a dramatic turnaround from the traditional way females had survived socially by bearing sons..."


"As I reached the age of fifty, I realized it was finally time for me, a teller of other women's tales, to write openly and honestly about myself..."