1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Victorian Scandals in Literature and Culture

Edited By Brenda Ayres, Sarah E. Maier Copyright 2023
    626 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    626 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge Handbook of Victorian Scandals in Literature and Culture exposes, explores, and examines what Victorians once considered flagrant breaches of decorum. Infringements that were fantasized through artforms or were actually committed exceeded entertaining parlor gossip; once in print they were condemned as socially contaminative but were also consumed as delightfully sensational. Written by scholars in diverse disciplines, this volume:

    • Demonstrates that spreading scandals seemed to have been one of the most entertaining sources of activities but were also normative efforts made by the Victorians to ensure conformity of decorum.
    • Provides a broad spectrum of infractions that were considered scandalous to the Victorians.
    • Identifies Victorian transgressions that made the news and that may still shock modern readers.
    • Covers a gamut of moral infractions and transgressions either practiced, rumored, or fantasized in art forms.

    This handbook is an invaluable resource about Victorian literature, art, and culture which challenges its readers to ponder perplexing questions about how and why some scandals were perpetrated and propagated in the nineteenth century while others were not, and what the controversies reveal about the human condition that persists beyond Victoria’s reign of propriety.

    List of Figures

    List of Contributors


    Introduction: Let’s Talk Scandal

    Brenda Ayres


    Part 1: Scandalous Victoriana 

    Chapter 1: The Afterlives of Victorian Scandals

    Lesley A. Hall


    Chapter 2: “Her only fear is convention”:

    The Bohemian Girl in Victorian Art and Life

    Anne Anderson, Bohemians in Paris, Anglo-Bohemia

    Chapter 3: Reading Between the Lines:

    “Town Jottings” from the Savage Club in the Brighton Guardian, 1877

    Catherine Layton


    Chapter 4: Scandalous Stupor:

    Chloroform and Robbery in Victorian Periodicals

    Ashlee Simon


    Chapter 5: Suicide as Scandal:

    Representations from Victorian Life and Art

    Catherine J. Golden   


    Chapter 6: Scandalous Women Wearing Cloaks of Religion

    Brenda Ayres


    Chapter 7: The Darwin Scandal

    Tony Schwab


    Part 2: Scandalous Parties


    Chapter 8: Victorian Atheists: Cultivating Scandal as a Way of Life

    David Nash


    Chapter 9: Scandals in a Religious Sect: Agapemone

    Catherine Layton


    Chapter 10: “A Scandalous and Painful Case”: Marriage, Libel, and the Church, 1873–1895

    Ginger Frost


    Chapter 11: The Cause Célèbre of the Year, If Not the Decade:

    May, Dowager Duchess of Sutherland

    Catherine Layton


    Chapter 12: Regina v. Dunn:

    Lady Angela Burdett-Coutts and the Irish Annoyance

    Daniel Stuart

    Chapter 13: A Poor Gamble:

    The Disastrous Elopement of the “Pocket Venus” (Lady Florence Paget)

    Catherine Layton


    Chapter 14: A “Voice from the Grave”:

    Lady Flora Hastings, Queen Victoria, and the Scandal of Pregnancy

    Suzanne Daly


    Chapter 15: Poisonous Words:

    Criminal Rhetoric and the Trials of Mary Ann Cotton and Florence Maybrick

    Katherine Anne Gilbert and Cheryl Blake Price


    Chapter 16: “I am a woman all alone”: The Case of Mrs. Manning

    Catherine Layton


    Chapter 17: Lady Lincoln and the Lesser Life of the 1850 Lincoln Divorce

    Gail Savage


    Chapter 18: Women in the Military and Their Heraldry in the Press

    Claire Cookson-Hills


    Chapter 19: Virtue v. Heroism:

    Kate Dickinson’s Case Against Colonel Valentine Baker

    Catherine Layton


    Chapter 20: Monstrous Martyrdom:

    The Trials of Oscar Wilde

    Tom Ue and Aaron Eames


    Part 3: Scandalous Reading and Delightfully Despicable Novels


    Chapter 21: Edith Cooper’s Sin:

    Mapping the Wilful Bodies of Michael Field

    Sharon Bickle


    Chapter 22: “Let us adore spilled blood”:

    Swinburne and the Scandal of Poems and Ballads

     Michael Craske


    Chapter 23: Edith J. Simcox and the Scandal of Queer Form

    Kellie Holzer

    Chapter 24: Scandalous Exogamy in Anthony Trollope’s The Prime Minister

    Lauren Cameron

    Chapter 25: Ouida: Her Scandalous Life and Scandalous Novels

    Catherine Layton


    Chapter 26: The Scandalous Deconstruction of Victorian Morals in Anna Lombard:

    What Made Victoria(ns) Cross?

    Purna Banerjee

    Chapter 27: Daddy’s Little Angel in the House:

    The Managing Daughter and the Incest Taboo

    Emily Dotson


    Chapter 28: The Nineteenth-Century Sex Worker: Avoiding Surveillance, Stereotypes, and Scandal   

    Hollie Geary-Jones


    Chapter 29: Sexy Dirt: Homosexual Scandal and Late-Victorian Social Reform

    S. Brooke Cameron


    Chapter 30: A Confusion of Discourses: Scandal and Degeneracy at the Fin de Siècle

    Sarah E. Maier




    Brenda Ayres is retired from full-time residential teaching but currently teaches nineteenth-century English literature and professional writing online for several universities.

    Sarah E. Maier is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of New Brunswick.