March 5, 2014

A New Book From Ian Ward

Sex, Crime and Literature in Victorian England

Ian Ward

The Victorians worried about many things, prominent among their worries being the 'condition' of England and the 'question' of its women. Sex, Crime and Literature in Victorian England revisits these particular anxieties, concentrating more closely upon four 'crimes' which generated especial concern amongst contemporaries: adultery, bigamy, infanticide and prostitution. Each engaged questions of sexuality and its regulation, legal, moral and cultural, for which reason each attracted the considerable interest not just of lawyers and parliamentarians, but also novelists and poets and perhaps most importantly those who, in ever-larger numbers, liked to pass their leisure hours reading about sex and crime. Alongside statutes such as the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act and the 1864 Contagious Diseases Act, Sex, Crime and Literature in Victorian England contemplates those texts which shaped Victorian attitudes towards England's 'condition' and the 'question' of its women: the novels of Dickens, Thackeray and Eliot, the works of sensationalists such as Ellen Wood and Mary Braddon, and the poetry of Gabriel and Christina Rossetti. Sex, Crime and Literature in Victorian England is a richly contextual commentary on a critical period in the evolution of modern legal and cultural attitudes to the relation of crime, sexuality and the family.

Ian Ward is Professor of Law at Newcastle University, and the author of a number of books on law, literature and history including 'Law and Literature: Possibilities and Perspectives' (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 'Shakespeare and the Legal Imagination' (Cambridge University Press, 1999), ‘The English Constitution: Myths and Realities' (Hart Publishing, 2004), 'Law, Text, Terror' (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and most recently 'Law and the Brontes' (Palgrave, 2011).

Introduction: Dark Shapes 1
Angels in the House 4
At Home with the Dombeys 9
The Disease of Reading 16
Pleasing and Teaching 24
1 Criminal Conversations 29
One Person in Law 32
Newcome v Lord Highgate 38
Carlyle v Carlyle 46
Oh Reader! 51
2 Fashionable Crimes 58
The Sensational Moment 61
Fashionable Crimes 66
Mrs Mellish’s Marriages 73
The Shame of Miss Braddon 81
3 Unnatural Mothers 88
The Precious Quality of Truthfulness 90
Hardwicke’s Children 95
R v Sorrel 101
The Lost and the Saved 108
4 Fallen Angels 118
Walking the Streets 121
The Murder of Nancy Sikes 127
Contemplating Jenny 134
Because Men Made the Laws 142

Index 149

Hart Publishing (2014) (available in hardcover and various ebook formats)

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