School Songs and Gymslips
Grammar Schools in the 1950s and 1960s
With tales from the days of indoor sandals and navy knickers, Latin verbs and transistor radios, semolina pudding and O Levels, this light-hearted social history is based on the experiences of pupils from 18 schools around the country and describes how things were for grammar school girls – at school and at home – between about 1955 and 1965.
Breach of Promise to Marry
A History of How Jilted Brides Settled Scores
Hiding from daylight in her mouldering wedding dress, Dickens’s Miss Havisham is the classic literary image of the jilted bride. But thanks to the 18th-century law of breach of promise, many women had more attractive options. This entertaining social history uncovers more than a thousand cases in which wronged fiancées employed no win no fee lawyers to gain substantial financial redress for their disappointment – and adventuresses extracted money from men ‘they cannot possibly want as husbands’.
Divorced, Beheaded, Sold
Ending an English Marriage 1500–1847
How could English people end unhappy marriages before divorce was readily available? As the colourful stories in this book reveal, the options ranged from quietly but bigamously remarrying to selling an unwanted wife to the highest bidder at market. The author also examines a 1594 case in which neighbours helped a woman retrieve property from her husband, and occasions when wives successfully sued for legal separation. The appendix focuses on Henry VIII's marital arrangements.
Sex and Punishment
Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire
Sex is one of the most powerful human drives, and societies have sought to regulate it since the dawn of history. Meticulous, scholarly, yet laced with spicy anecdote, this chronological survey ranges from the brutal impalement of an adulteress in Mesopotamia to the trials of Oscar Wilde. Peopled with transvestites, rent boys, royal mistresses and gay charioteers, it demonstrates how what is 'normal' in one age is forbidden in another, exposing the futility of such attempts to constrain human sexuality.