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Great Scandals of the Victorians (ePub)

Disreputable Stories from the Royal Court to the Stage

Military > Pre-WWI

By Debbie Blake
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 10.9 MB (.epub)
Pages: 216
ISBN: 9781399091619
Published: 23rd May 2024


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Great Scandals of the Victorians features a collection of true stories that shocked, outraged, angered or simply amused the Victorians in nineteenth-century Britain. Drawing on a wide variety of original material, seven disreputable stories that dominated the national newspapers for many weeks are explored, including the Great Warwickshire Scandal, a highly publicized divorce case where for the first time in history a Prince of Wales was called to give evidence in court; a ‘baby’ scandal that disrupted Queen Victoria’s court and threatened the monarchy; the sex scandals of the Abode of Love, a mysterious religious cult founded by a defrocked clergyman, Henry James Prince and the sensational trial of Fanny and Stella, two outrageous cross-dressers accused of sodomy.

Some scandals, though traumatic for the people involved, produced a positive outcome, such as the scandalous custody battle between Caroline Norton and her husband, which led to the passing of the Custody of Infants Act, granting mothers custody of their children following a divorce, and the case of 13-year-old Eliza Armstrong, sold to a brothel keeper for £5, which caused a major scandal and public outrage, but also led to a change in the law, raising the age of consent from 13 to 16 years.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this book! It's somewhat rare to see people talking about the wonder human that was W.T.Stead, which was one of the reasons I chose this volume.
I definitely would like to invite the author to our podcast and discuss more.
Brilliant and can't-put-down-read!

NetGalley, Natalie Lomako

The best way to describe this book is a cozy gossip session with a friend who also happens to be a victorian history buff. The stories are never bogged down by too many dates or superfluous information which I greatly appreciate. I highly recommend this book and can't wait to explore more of Debbie Blake's works. As a true crime fanatic I think Victorian Murderesses will have to be my next read.

NetGalley, Yuqi Song

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Victorian Era is generally regarded as formal and all so proper. Here that myth is destroyed. The scandal sheets of that day were filled with their versions of sex and sensational trials. This is an eye opening view of what "really" went on behind closed doors and in front of an eager populace wanting to know more.

NetGalley, Marianne Malone

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love the Victorian era in theory. I love the literature, the music, the dress, the civilized aspects. In short, I love the curated sanitised version provided in a modern BBC costume drama and would have in actual fact decried the squalid and desperately short lives of the actual reality of the time (and probably been locked up and/or beaten to death for my troubles). This interesting and wide ranging collection of scandals which were recounted in the broadsheets (newspapers) of the time period range from plainly tragic to almost comedic in scale and effect. People then as now love to read about scandals which don't touch them directly.

The text is annotated and the chapter notes make for interesting further reading. There are numerous illustrations and facsimile documents scattered relevantly throughout which are illuminating. The extensive bibliography invites exploration and will provide useful avenues for further research.

NetGalley, Annie Buchanan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dive into a collection of true stories that captivated and outraged nineteenth-century Britain. Explore these disreputable tales that dominated the national newspapers, changed laws, and even demanded the Prince of Wales to testify in court. These stories go more in-depth than I expected. They’re engrossing, vivid, and often heart-wrenching.

NetGalley, Andrea Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Victorians are frequently perceived as moralistic and very much above squalid and sordid behaviour. A society where even a glimpse of a piano leg was deemed potentially shocking and they were covered. But scrape away this veneer and all human life with its sordid underbelly is there. Very much a do as I say, not as I do society.

Debbie Blake has gathered together a selection of genuinely interesting cases which hit the press and had readers clamouring for more and wanting every lurid detail. Nothing sells like sex and there’s a fair smattering of cases which caught the imagination. Royalty and the titled, as ever, are not guilt free and a couple of more familiar cases are detailed. I found two cases particularly interesting as I was unaware that each had resulted in a change in legislation. One caused the age of a ‘child’ to be raised to 16; I’d heard of the use of children in brothels, but didn’t realise that there was legislative change. The second case resulted in the introduction of legislation to award mothers custody in divorce cases.

We think that the modern press and reporting is often graphic and detailed, but the Victorian appetite for salacious detail was unsurpassed and I was surprised by the court questions reported at some length in a few cases. It’s definitely true crime stuff! The selection cases gives real insight into a duplicitous society where double standards were a norm. A fascinating slice of social history, thoroughly researched and well written.

There’s a comprehensive bibliography and index and a selection of plates and illustrations, most of which I hadn’t seen before. A truly enjoyable read.

NetGalley, Anita Wallas

This was so interesting to read. I like reading about the Victorian era and this gives the raw and dirty secrets.

NetGalley, Sierra Gonzalez

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was such a good read, to learn about scandals from the Victorian era that I didn't know about was so exciting and I learnt so much about the scandals.

NetGalley, A D

Readers who are interested in Victorian history will no doubt enjoy reading this one.

NetGalley, Bethany Swafford

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

‘Scandalous stories sold newspapers and people would flock to buy a copy as they rolled off the printing press.’

Anything to do with the Victorian era I MUST read!

>From Flora Hastings to the he-she ladies, Great Scandals of the Victorians is a book to delight and shock you!

Personally for me despite absolutely loving this book, I feel it is important to mention that there are some very distressing topics in this book (chapter five) The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon. I found this quite a difficult chapter to read due to many trigger warnings. I had to take a few breaks while reading this particular chapter. It is a chapter that could be missed if you did not feel ok to read it,

‘Whether it involved crime, sex, or royalty, just like many of us today, the Victorians loved a juicy scandal.’

Debbie has also written a book called Victorian Murderesses which is a favourite of mine. An author that I will defiantly read without hesitation.

NetGalley, Georgi Lvs Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This came at an amazing time. My university professor recommended I read up on the Victorian era, and this book was THE perfect one for it.
The level of detail in each chapter is amazing and it gives the stories a really authentic true feel to them. I like the way it’s written it’s quite humorous whilst not detracting from the facts of the book. It is of course, a thrilling read for anyone interested in this time period or the history of the royal family. An easy read, keeps you engaged, and you learn something!

NetGalley, Megan Rose Kershaw

About Debbie Blake

Debbie Blake is a freelance writer whose historical articles have been published in various publications in the UK, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. She has written articles for the internet and runs two blogs Women’s History Bites and The Wee History Blog. She is the author of Daughters of Ireland: Pioneering Irish Women and The Little Book of Tipperary, published by The History Press.

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