Murder and morality in Victorian Britain

The story of Madeleine Smith

By Eleanor Gordon and Gwyneth Nair

Murder and morality in Victorian Britain


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8069-2
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £17.99
  • Published Date: August 2009
  • BIC Category: European history, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Humanities / British & Irish history, History, United Kingdom, Great Britain
  • Series: Gender in History


This book explores the life of Madeleine Smith, who in 1857 was tried for poisoning her secret lover. As well as charting the course of this illicit relationship and Madeleine's subsequent trial, the authors draw on a wide range of sources to pursue themes such as the nature of gender relations and the extent of women's social and commercial activities, and to bring vividly to life the world of the mid-Victorian middle class.The book contains new discoveries about Madeleine's long and colourful life after the trial which confirm the view that it is only in fiction that the bad end unhappily.

The book will be of interest to academic social historians, but the fascination of its subject matter and the way in which much rich material is used to evoke a vivid sense of time and place, will also promote a wider interest among a more general readership.


an enormously valuable contribution to literature, showing how new light can be shed on even the most well-known cases.


Eleanor Gordon is Professor of Social and Gender History at the University of Glasgow. Gwyneth Nair is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of the West of Scotland


List of figures
1. Papa's house
2. My own beloved darling husband
3. Too much waltzing
4. A great many things
5. This unparalleled case
6. Stories of Madeleine Smith
7. Afterwards

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