Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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p. xi

MUCH OF THE RESEARCH for The Spectacle of Intimacy involved peering into small cracks and looking beneath heavy stones. We would have been lost in the shadows, were it not for marvelous help from archivists, curators, and librarians at the British Library, the Institute for Historical Research, King’s...

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INTRODUCTION: The Trouble with Families

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pp. 3-17

The preceding, written by the physician to the king of Saxony, Dr. Carus, appears at still greater length in the introductory pages to the census report of 1851, where the voice of rotund officialdom delivered its views on the Victorian family. Carus’s entirely conventional opinions could not have been more reassuring, or their Saxon origins more agreeable...

PART ONE: The Political Theater of Domesticity

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CHAPTER ONE: The Trials of Caroline Norton: Poetry, Publicity, and the Prime Minister

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pp. 21-45

When in the last years of the 1830s Caroline Norton fought her successful campaign for the Infant Custody Bill, she displayed in the clearest possible terms the politics of domestic life. Arguing that the law of custody had never been understood and that misinformed women persistently believed that they possessed legal recourse against established immorality, Norton turned away...

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CHAPTER TWO: The Young Queen and the Parliamentary Bedchamber: ‘‘I never saw a man so frightened”

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pp. 46-62

This note of mock sorrow and sincere outrage dates from the end of a fiercely turbulent May in 1839, when the irrepressible and vengeful Lord Brougham rose in the House of Lords to throw scorn upon his former allies in the Whig government. Windily recounting the events that we know as the Bedchamber...

PART TWO: Beneath the Banner of Home

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CHAPTER THREE: Sarah Stickney Ellis: The Ardent Woman and the Abject Wife

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pp. 65-85

Our first epigraph comes from a letter written by Sarah Stickney to her husband-to-be, the anthropologist and missionary, William Ellis. Its sentiments should come as something of a shock to those who know “Mrs. Ellis” only through her influential series of domestic celebrations heavily clustered in the 1840s...

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CHAPTER FOUR: Tom’s Pinch: The Sexual Serpent beside the Dickensian Fireside

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pp. 86-101

Near the end of Martin Chuzzlewit the fortune-seeking parasite Chevy Slyme reappears in the improbable guise of a police officer, no longer hopeful of extracting wealth from his distant relationship to old Martin, but no less round with resentment or less brazen in his pomposity. Slyme, having been called to arrest Jonas Chuzzlewit for murder, turns to Martin and flaunts his degradation...

PART THREE: Was That an Angel in the House?

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CHAPTER FIVE: Love after Death: The Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill

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pp. 105-120

During a richly sentimental tableau set in the middle of The Cricket on the Hearth, we read of the two female friends that May’s face set off Dot’s, and Dot’s face set off May’s, so naturally and agreeably, that, as John Peerybingle was very near saying when he came into the room, they ought to have been born sisters: which was the only improvement you could have suggested.1

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CHAPTER SIX: The Transvestite, the Bloomer, and the Nightingale

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pp. 121-140

Queen Victoria, Caroline Norton, and Sarah Stickney Ellis make a complex triad within which to locate the quizzical poetic oddity that is Tennyson’s The Princess, a poem that will serve us, as it served many of its contemporary readers, as a fantastic gateway into a scene of domestic transformation. Composed and revised between 1839 and 1847, The Princess absorbs a decade of...

PART FOUR: The Architecture of Comfort and Ruin

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CHAPTER SEVEN: On the Parapets of Privacy: Walls of Wealth and Dispossession

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pp. 143-155

IN THIS NEXT SECTION of the study we adjust the emphasis to consider the material environment of domestic life. The ambitions of the midcentury family, its longing for privacy and its fear of exposure, were not only enacted through image, idea, and emotion; they were performed in rooms, among objects, near streets. As we first suggested in our reading of Dickens, Victorian domesticity...

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CHAPTER EIGHT: Robert Kerr: The Gentleman’s House and the One-Room Solution

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pp. 156-178

Robert Kerr has only just survived in historical memory, the author of a few works of documentary interest, which appear briefly in the breathless surveys of architectural historians and are then forgotten along with the rest of him. But he lived, walked, worried, wanted, rejoiced, and resented, all without any...

PART FIVE: The Sensations of Respectability

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CHAPTER NINE: The Empire of Divorce: Single Women, the Bill of 1857, and Revolt in India

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pp. 181-200

In 1851 the Queen had exulted in the prosperity of her nation, conspicuously displayed through her husband’s cherished project, the Great Exhibition. Ten years later, the country anxiously witnessed another exhibition: the grief of a sovereign. First, in March 1861, Victoria’s mother unexpectedly died, leaving...

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CHAPTER TEN: Bigamy and Modernity: The Case of Mary Elizabeth Braddon

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pp. 201-213

Through the length of the 1850s, a series of episodes brought an accumulation of exemplary new roles for women. From the bloomer to the pistol-wielding Mrs. Wheeler, from Caroline Norton to Florence Nightingale, from an emergent feminism to an eager philanthropy, these highly visible instances spread themselves across the cultural expanse. It’s true that their diversity resolved...

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EPILOGUE: Between Manual and Spectacle

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pp. 215-220

THERE ARE TIMES when the imaginative investments of a culture become so conspicuous, so overheated, that a second order of discourse emerges. Where there had been the affirmation of a value, now affirmation affirms itself. What had appeared as a reflex begins to conduct itself as a program. Exactly when...

Notes

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pp. 221-246

Index

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pp. 247-250