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The Case of the Married Woman Reviews

The Case of the Married Woman by Lady Antonia Fraser

The Case of the Married Woman: Caroline Norton: A 19th Century Heroine Who Wanted Justice for Women

Lady Antonia Fraser

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publication date: 6 May 2021
ISBN: 9781474610926

The scandal of nineteenth-century Britain: the sensational trial of Caroline Norton for adultery with the first Victorian Prime Minister

5 stars out of 5
Roger Lewis
3 May 2021

"a furious dissection of double standards – and a rousing study of a brave woman"

The major theme of Fraser’s book is rage – hers and Caroline’s – that women in those days had no rights over their children. In the eyes of the law, married women simply didn’t exist. “The female is by a law of nature put under the dominion of the male,” an assumption that had scriptural authority, as “superiority is not a thing of man’s devising, but of God’s”. Nor were women allowed to own anything, of any kind. Caroline’s grandfather’s pension and property, worth £40,000, which she’d inherited, “belonged legally to her husband,” who cut her allowance, giving her trouble at the bank.


4 stars out of 5
Daisy Goodwin
25 Apr 2021

"There have been other books about Caroline Norton, but Fraser’s is the first to emphasise what a modern figure she is"

Caroline’s ceaseless campaigning, her taste for publicity and her ambition (she once wrote to the prime minister Sir Robert Peel suggesting she be appointed the next poet laureate) did not generally endear her to people — even her sisters wished that she would stop making such a fuss. She was also not what we could call a feminist: she believed that women should be “protected” by men. Yet she made a difference, a big difference. There have been other books about Caroline Norton, but Fraser’s is the first to emphasise what a modern figure she is, portraying her not as a hapless victim but as a working mother and bestselling writer who refused to submit to what can only be called the patriarchy — a “difficult” woman whose bloodymindedness improved the lot of other women. Fraser is surely right to call her a 19th-century heroine.