Decadent Divorce: Scandal and Sensation in Victorian Britain

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On Thursday 11 January 1883, the new Royal Courts of Justice opened its doors for business. From that day forward a stream of dissatisfied spouses from all over the country passed through with their tales of marital woe. Their desperate attempts to prove their partner's marital crimes to judge and jury unwittingly became something of a spectator sport; the most sensational, instructive or noteworthy stories were reported daily in copious detail by Fleet Street's eager press.

The great causes revealed stories of decadence and disregard, arrogance and entitlement; the faults and foibles of an aristocracy that had once held reverence as a birthright exposed to a growing and increasingly scathing middle- and working-class readership. Members of the professional class tasted the downside of celebrity; and for those of the working class who could scrape together enough money there was at last some relief from abusive, deserting or unfaithful spouses but to what end? Decadent Divorce takes a peep through the keyhole of the court to witness, not just what the butler saw, but what the world was invited to see; to explore what this microcosm of late Victorian society tells us about society at large. The picture that emerges is one of high drama, humour, pathos and tragedy, brimming with moral comment that throws a light on the social tensions and preoccupations of the age.

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Binding: Hardback
Author: Ruth Derham

SKU: 9781398108943