Caroline Norton, born in 1808, was a society beauty, poet and pamphleteer. Her good looks and wit attracted many male admirers, first her husband, the Honourable George Norton, and then the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. After years of simmering jealousy, George Norton accused Caroline and the Prime Minister of a 'criminal conversation' (adultery) resulting in a trial referred to as 'the scandal of the century'. Cut off and bankrupted by George Norton, she went on to become one of the most important figures in changing the law for wives and mothers.
The extraordinary story of the first campaigner for women's rights in the legal system
"The liberating life story of the first feminist legislator" Kathy Lette "Diane Atkinson has written the definitive account of one of the most important trials of the nineteenth century - that of Caroline Norton's fight to keep her children. The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton is an important and necessary book. It also happens to be beautifully written and extremely entertaining. Diane Atkinson has resurrected a nineteenth century heroine in the twentieth-first century." Amanda Foreman "Caroline Norton took her fight to see her children to the highest court in the land and changed the lot of mothers for ever. Diane Atkinson tells her story with a clarity and wit that makes it a pleasure to read." Joan Bakewell "Expertly researched and finely written... Mrs Norton's journey from abused wife to passionate reformer is as moving as it is fascinating, and Atkinson's richly detailed work does her subject the justice she deserves." BBC History Magazine "Diane Atkinson's captivating fifth book...pacy book that's as bright and fascinating as its heroine." Independent on Sunday
Diane Atkinson was born in the North-East and educated in Cornwall and London, where she completed a PhD on the politics of women's sweated labour. At the Museum of London she worked as a lecturer and curator specializing in women's history. She has an MA from the University of East Anglia in Life-writing. She is the author of Suffragettes in Pictures, Funny Girls: Cartooning for Equality, Love and Dirt: The Marriage of Arthur Munby and Hannah Cullwick, and Elsie and Mairi Go To War, published in 2009.