1st Edition

Legal Narratives in Victorian Fiction

By Joanne Bridget Simpson Copyright 2023

    The law holds up a mirror to society and reflects that society and its ongoing preoccupations. This book establishes legal interpretation as a mode of literary interpretation, contextualising the opinions and sociological background of literature within the context of the law of its period and examines the inherent role of the law in the construction of the narrative in the literature of the nineteenth century. From the approach to the operation of jurisprudence and legal application, to the prosecution of the poor, the criminological approach to moral panics and the use of the affirmative defence to mitigate women within society, this book explores the ways in which the authors of the period used the novel form as a way of challenging and critiquing the legal operating model of the world in which their characters found themselves; examining the way in which the authors of the period used the novel as a means of critiquing the nature of the role of the law within society, its impact upon the general public, and the reciprocity which exists between legal ideals and the society which manifests those ideals through thought and action. This is a useful text for students of nineteenth-century literature or the law.

    1. A Trying Situation: Narrative Structure and the Law

    2. Order in the Courts: The Writer and the Legal Applicability Debate

    3. Prosecuting the Poor: Victorian Poverty and the Poor Laws

    4. Bad and Mad: Defending the Criminal Woman



    Joanne Simpson completed her PhD in English at the University of Ulster, after completing a masters in law at Queens University Belfast, and undergraduate at the University of Ulster. She is an associate academic at the University of Ulster writing in the area of law and literature. Joanne currently works with an international legislative consultancy, and she sits on the board of the Irish Centre for European Law, Trinity College, Dublin, advising on European law, human rights, and financial services regulation.