Murder and morality in Victorian Britain: the story of Madeleine Smith

Gordon, E. and Nair, G. (2009) Murder and morality in Victorian Britain: the story of Madeleine Smith. Series: Gender in History. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719080692

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Abstract

This book explores the life of Madeleine Smith, who in 1857 was tried for poisoning her secret lover. As well as charting the course of this illicit relationship and Madeleine's subsequent trial, the authors draw on a wide range of sources to pursue themes such as the nature of gender relations and the extent of women's social and commercial activities, and to bring vividly to life the world of the mid-Victorian middle class. In particular, Madeleine's letters, full of gossip and passion as well as the details of her daily life, offer unique insights not only into her relationship with her lover, L'Angelier, but also into the life of her social circle, filled with partying, flirting and shopping. Her trial and the press response to it reveal much about contemporary views on sexual morality, parenting and the essence of 'Britishness'. The authors analyse the ways in which the case has been written about by subsequent authors and demonstrate how the concerns of the present shape the telling of the past. The book contains new discoveries about Madeleine's long and colourful life after the trial which confirm the view that it is only in fiction that the bad end unhappily. The book will be of interest to academic social historians, but the fascination of its subject matter and the way in which much rich material is used to evoke a vivid sense of time and place, will also promote a wider interest among a more general readership.

Item Type:Books
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gordon, Professor Eleanor
Authors: Gordon, E., and Nair, G.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Publisher:Manchester University Press
ISBN:9780719080692

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