Sex, Crime and Literature in Victorian England

By Ian Ward

The Victorians worried about many things, prominent among their worries being the 'condition' of England and the 'question' of its women. This book - now available in paperback - revisits these particular anxieties, concentrating more closely upon four 'crimes' which generated special concern amongst contemporaries: adultery, bigamy, infanticide, and prostitution. Each engaged with questions of sexuality and its regulation - as well as the legal, moral, and cultural concerns - which 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, the book 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. It is an important study for all those interested in law and literature, legal history, and criminology. ** "Ward successfully provides a legal and legislative context to texts that both shaped and reflected the Victorian psyche...this book would be an excellent addition to an academic library as it has broad appeal to those studying law, literature, history, and gender studies." -- Alexia Loumankis, Canadian Law Library Review [Subject: Law and Humanities, Gender and the Law, Legal History, Socio-Legal Studies, Criminology, Literary Criticism]


Publication Date: 11/19/2015
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781509904983

Available in other formats