CVHF2021 talks by Antonia Fraser

35. THE CASE OF THE MARRIED WOMAN: CAROLINE NORTON, A 19th CENTURY HEROINE

Award-winning historian Antonia Fraser, in conversation with Lucy Moore, will give a brilliant portrait of a woman, at once courageous and compassionate, who refused to be curbed by the personal and political constraints of her time. Poet, pamphleteer and artist’s muse, Caroline Norton dazzled nineteenth-century society with her vivacity and intelligence. Most prominent among her admirers was the widowed Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. Racked with jealousy, George Norton took the Prime Minister to court, suing him for damages on account of his ‘Criminal Conversation’ (adultery) with his wife. Despite acquittal, Norton legally denied Caroline access to her three children under seven and also claimed her income as an author for himself. Caroline campaigned tirelessly to reform the rights of a married woman and specifically those of a mother, achieving her first landmark victory with the Infant Custody Act of 1839.

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