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By A. James Hammerton

Cruelty and Companionship is an account of the intimate yet darker aspects of marriage in Victorian and Edwardian England. Hammerton attracts upon formerly unpublished fabric from the documents of the divorce court docket and magistrates' courts to problem many renowned perspectives approximately altering family members styles. His findings open an extraordinary window onto the sexual politics of daily life and the regimen tensions which conditioned marriage in center and dealing category households. utilizing modern facts starting from prescriptive texts and public debate to autobiography and fiction, Hammerton examines the serious public scrutiny which followed the regimen publicity of marital breakdown, and charts a growing to be critique of men's behaviour in marriage which more and more demanded law and reform. The serious discourse which resulted, starting from paternalist to feminist, casts new mild at the origins and trajectory of 19th century feminism, criminal switch and our figuring out of the altering expression of masculinity.

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Extra info for Cruelty and Companionship: Conflict in Nineteenth Century Married Life (1995)

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Poor, unskilled men, certainly, were most often vilified for abuse of their wives, but skilled workers, shopkeepers and men with a variety of occupations from the lower middle class appeared no less frequently in the Preston police court on wifeassault charges. 97 per cent identified as labourers, unskilled and unskilled unemployed. Even allowing for the possibility that court reporters might be more likely to specify skilled and middle-class occupations, and to ignore those of labourers, the representation of ‘respectable’ occupations is significant.

38 Moreover, the large section of the press which supported the action—extending well beyond the most radical journals like Reynolds’s, the Red Republican and Lloyds—saw the main justification for Haynau’s treatment to be the notorious ‘un-English’ flogging. 39 In Harney’s Red Republican, the fictional ‘Howard Morton’, suspected by Harney’s biographer, Schoyen, to be the socialist-feminist, Helen Macfarlane,40 took the reasoning, with a note of gender-conscious irony, to its most threatening conclusion: 24 WORKING-CLASS MARRIAGE Of what terrible, revolting crime had these unhappy women been guilty?

I go and visit them in their homes. 25 Any study of reported cases of domestic assaults in the later nineteenth century soon reveals the extent of this process. One typical case in Preston, in which a husband was charged with striking his wife in the face, choking her and threatening to kill her with a carving knife, concluded, after the bench had recommended conciliation, in the clients retiring with their solicitors to discuss the case, and agreeing to live together again after the husband ‘had undertaken to provide her with a comfortable home.

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