In this Book

summary

Love of home life, the intimate moments a family peacefully enjoyed in seclusion, had long been considered a hallmark of English character even before the Victorian era. But the Victorians attached unprecedented importance to domesticity, romanticizing the family in every medium from novels to government reports, to the point where actual families felt anxious and the public developed a fierce appetite for scandal. Here Karen Chase and Michael Levenson explore how intimacy became a spectacle and how this paradox energized Victorian culture between 1835 and 1865. They tell a story of a society continually perfecting the forms of private pleasure and yet forever finding its secrets exposed to view. The friction between the two conditions sparks insightful discussions of authority and sentiment, empire and middle-class politics.

The book recovers neglected episodes of this mid-century drama: the adultery trial of Caroline Norton and the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne; the Bedchamber Crisis of the young Queen Victoria; the Bloomer craze of the 1850s; and Robert Kerr's influential treatise, celebrating the ideal of the English Gentleman's House. The literary representation of household life--in Dickens, Tennyson, Ellis, and Oliphant, among others--is placed in relation to such public spectacles as the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill of 1848, the controversy over divorce in the years 1854-1857, and the triumphant return of Florence Nightingale from the Crimea. These colorful incidents create a telling new portrait of Victorian family life, one that demands a fundamental rethinking of the relation between public and private spheres.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. i-v
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. List of Illustrations
  2. p. ix
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. xi
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  1. INTRODUCTION: The Trouble with Families
  2. pp. 3-17
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  1. PART ONE: The Political Theater of Domesticity
  2. p. 19
  1. CHAPTER ONE: The Trials of Caroline Norton: Poetry, Publicity, and the Prime Minister
  2. pp. 21-45
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  1. CHAPTER TWO: The Young Queen and the Parliamentary Bedchamber: ‘‘I never saw a man so frightened”
  2. pp. 46-62
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  1. PART TWO: Beneath the Banner of Home
  2. p. 63
  1. CHAPTER THREE: Sarah Stickney Ellis: The Ardent Woman and the Abject Wife
  2. pp. 65-85
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  1. CHAPTER FOUR: Tom’s Pinch: The Sexual Serpent beside the Dickensian Fireside
  2. pp. 86-101
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  1. PART THREE: Was That an Angel in the House?
  2. p. 103
  1. CHAPTER FIVE: Love after Death: The Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill
  2. pp. 105-120
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  1. CHAPTER SIX: The Transvestite, the Bloomer, and the Nightingale
  2. pp. 121-140
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  1. PART FOUR: The Architecture of Comfort and Ruin
  2. p. 141
  1. CHAPTER SEVEN: On the Parapets of Privacy: Walls of Wealth and Dispossession
  2. pp. 143-155
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  1. CHAPTER EIGHT: Robert Kerr: The Gentleman’s House and the One-Room Solution
  2. pp. 156-178
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  1. PART FIVE: The Sensations of Respectability
  2. p. 179
  1. CHAPTER NINE: The Empire of Divorce: Single Women, the Bill of 1857, and Revolt in India
  2. pp. 181-200
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  1. CHAPTER TEN: Bigamy and Modernity: The Case of Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  2. pp. 201-213
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  1. EPILOGUE: Between Manual and Spectacle
  2. pp. 215-220
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 221-246
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 247-250
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400831128
Print ISBN
9780691006680
MARC Record
OCLC
496275791
Pages
264
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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