Jen's Reviews > Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady

Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace by Kate Summerscale
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's review
Aug 27, 2012

really liked it
Read in July, 2012

In 1857, England passed the Matrimonial Causes Act, which created the Court of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes. Divorces no longer required an act of Parliament.

In 1858, Henry Robinson stumbled across his wife's diary. In her diary, Isabella Robinson described her own sexual urges and various adulterous encounters. Their divorce trial became an enormous scandal, with passages from Isabella's diary published in the daily newspapers.

Summerscale's nonfiction book examines Isabella's life, her social circle (including Darwin and other intellectuals), and her frustration at the confines of her life. The book also examines the Victorian fashion for diary writing, as women often wrote diaries either in anticipation of their publication or as exercises in writing fiction. How much of Isabella's diary was fact is unknown. Summerscale tries to uncover the truths in the scandal, exploring the fascinating world of Victorian marriage.

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