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date: 02 August 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Caroline Norton (1808–1877) was a British feminist and reformer who was renowned for her beauty. Norton translated her personal experiences—of a bitter divorce and the denial of custody of her children—into activism on behalf of married women. As a direct result of her efforts, Parliament passed acts protecting women’s custody, marriage rights, and property in the 1840s–1860s. Her letter to the Lord Chancellor on the Infant Custody Bill argues eloquently but forcefully in favor of female custody. Sixteen years later, Norton aimed even higher and wrote a letter directly to the Queen of England to remedy the problem that British married women had, as she phrased it, “no legal existence.”

From Norton, Caroline Sheridan, 1808–1877. The Separation of Mother and Child by the Law of “Custody of Infants,” Considered. London: Roake and Varty, 1831; Strand, 1838, pp. 1–6.

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