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The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton

Recording from Diane Atkinson’s talk, ‘The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton’ for CVHF, Tuesday 25th June 2013.

Critically-acclaimed author Diane Atkinson tells the story of one woman’s fight for the rights of women everywhere. On the morning of 22nd June, 1836, crowds were gathering at the Court of Common Pleas to witness the case of Caroline Sheridan who had been accused, by her violent bully of a husband, of having a ‘criminal conversation’ (an affair), with the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. The woman accused was not only a talented poet and songwriter but beautiful and notoriously flirtatious as well. But although she was acquitted, her husband’s revenge was savage. Having become a laughing stock, he cut her off (as was his legal right), refused to let her see her children and left her destitute. This is a fascinating insight into Victorian morals, prejudice and hypocrisy as well as Sheridan’s campaign for women’s rights.