Martha Bailey, Queen's University Faculty of Law, is publishing The Marriage Law of Jane Austen's World in volume 36 of Persuasions On-line (Winter 2015). Here is the abstract.
Marriage is the central theme and conclusion of Jane Austen’s novels. But marriage in Regency England was a very different institution from what it is here and now, in large part because of changes in the law relating to marriage. Knowledge of the marriage law of Austen’s world gives a deeper understanding of her books. More importantly, the books give us a richer appreciation of how marriage laws structured the lives of men and women. Austen conveys the lived reality of those subject to early nineteenth century laws relating to the economic arrangements of marriage, pre-marital sex, the marriage of relatives, clandestine and underage marriage, divorce, and adulterine bastardy.Download the article from SSRN at the link.