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Seminar Questions
  • How did the experiences of marriage (and divorce) differ between elite, middle and working-class men and women?
  • To what extent did legislative reform alter the perception of marriage in nineteenth century society?
  • Is it fair to view wives as passive victims?

Key Reading

Gail Savage, 'the instrument of an animal function’: Marital Rape and Sexual Cruelty in the Divorce Court, 1858–1908'' in Delap, The Politics of Domestic Authority in Britain Since 1800.

Joan Perkin, Women and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century England, chp 13 'Battle for Jericho'.

John Benson, Domination, Subordination and Struggle: middle‐class marriage in early twentieth‐century Wolverhampton, England, WHR.

Further Reading

Caroline Norton, English Laws for Women

Mona Caird, On the Morality of Marriage (esp 131-149)

Clementina Black, Clementina Black, On Marriage

Anna Davin, ‘Imperialism and motherhood’, History Workshop Journal, 1978

Eleanor Gordon and Gwynneth Nair, 'Domestic Fathers and the Victorian Parental Role'. Women's History Review, 15 (2006)

Mary Landon Shanley, '"One Must Ride Behind": Married women's Rights and the Divorce Act of 1857', Victorian Studies, 25 (1982)

See also Susie Steinbach, Women in England, 1760-1914, chapter 4

J. Burnett (ed.), Destiny Obscure: Autobiographies of Childhood, Education and Family from the 1820s to the 1920s

Joanna Bourke, 'Housewifery in Working-Class England, 1860-1914', Past and Present, 143 (1994)

Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches

Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850

Llewellyn Davies, Life as We Have Known It

Andrew Davies, 'Youth, violence, and courtship in late-Victorian Birmingham : The case of James Harper and Emily Pimm'. History of the Family, 11 (2006)

Anna Davin, Growing up Poor: Home, house and street in London

Patricia Jalland, Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914

Trevor Lummis, 'The Historical Dimension of Fatherhood' in O'Brien and McKee (eds), The Father Figure

J Mangan and James Walvin (eds), Manliness and Morality: Middle-Class Masculinity in Britain and America

David Roberts, 'The Paterfamilias of the Victorian Governing Class' in Wohl (ed), The Victorian Family

P. Rose, Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages

Ellen Ross, Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918

John Tosh, 'Authority and Nurture in Middle-Class Fatherhood', Gender and History (1996)

John Tosh, A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian Britain