Some people are born to be activists, others are forced into politics by circumstances beyond their control. This is the case with Caroline Norton.
She was born in 1808 to an impoverished but genteel family. At the age of nineteen, she was encouraged by her widowed mother to marry George Norton. She had been assured he would make a good match and be a good provider for her and her children. Unfortunately, George had misrepresented his earnings and once married Caroline discovered that he had virtually no income, was lazy and did not like to work. Luckily, Caroline was a gifted writer and was able to support them with her publications. In 1830, at the request of her husband, Caroline asked an old family friend and Home Secretary, Lord Melbourne, to find George a position.
By all accounts George was a womanising drunk who frequently beat Caroline. The couple had three sons, but during her fourth pregnancy, sometime in 1835, he beat her so badly she miscarried. This was the last straw, she left taking the children with her and sought refuge with her family. This was when she discovered that married women did not exist according to English law. Legally, everything they owned as a couple belonged to George that included;
Her personal items,
Her writings – professional and personal,
Any income she earned,
And most importantly – the children.
In 1836, he took the children and refused her access to them. He then sought a divorce, accusing her of adultery with Lord Melbourne who was now the British Prime Minister. George also sued Lord Melbourne for ten thousand pounds in damages. (Talk about a grab for the cash.) George had encouraged Caroline’s friendship with Melbourne when he wanted a job, but now he wanted to use that friendship to his own ends. The courts threw out the case, declaring Caroline innocent, but her reputation was tarnished and she was branded as a scandalous woman. Worse the fact that the courts had denied George’s claim of adultery meant that she had to remain married to him. Under English law she could not file for divorce, because her husband beat her, he had every right to abuse her because she belonged to him. And she could not claim guardianship of her children or request access to them. In effect she was a non-person.
Caroline did the only thing she could do; she set about trying to change the law. She published pamphlets and essays stating her case and asking that the law be changed. I should point out that many of her supporters were men. In 1839 The Custody of Infants Act was passed with the help of men like Thomas Talfourd, Lord Lyndhurston, and Lord Vassall Holland who spoke on behalf of mistreated women, citing cases, and actively crusading for the bill to be passed.
In reaction George took the children to Scotland which had a different system of laws and so were exempt from English law. In 1842 tragedy struck when their youngest son, William, contracted tetanus. Caroline was unable to reach him before he died. This is overwhelmingly sad and must have touched George, because he finally relented and allowed Caroline to visit her remaining two children, although he still refused to give up custody.
The pair continued to fight over money. George tricked her into signing a financial agreement and then reneged on it. There was nothing she could do because under the law she had no separate identity from her husband. This led Caroline to write and petition for a law allowing women to divorce, and keep their earnings. She stated publicly that as her husband was entitled to all her wages she would only write about the need to change the marriage laws. In 1857 the Divorce Act was passed. It was a beginning and provided some legal protection for divorced, separated, and deserted women.
Caroline finally became free of George when he died in 1875. She married lifelong friend Sir William Stirling-Maxwell in 1877, but died three months after her wedding.
It is unfortunate that Caroline had to suffer for the laws to be changed. But at the same time I’m grateful that she found the strength to fight the unjust system of laws that viewed women as property rather than people.
Today, I’m pleased to welcome fellow author Brenda Whiteside to talk to us about her latest release The Art of Love and Murder.
I’m so happy to be here, Marlow, on your great blog. I’m equally happy to let all your readers know about the Rafflecopter Giveaway for my tour. We’re getting near the end of the tour so hope everyone takes the opportunity to enter.
Lacy Dahl never questioned her past until the deaths of her adoptive parents and her husband. A husband who wasn't what he seemed. Her research uncovers secrets about the mother she never knew; secrets that dispute the identity of her father and threaten her life.
Sheriff Chance Meadowlark is still haunted by the murder of his wife and the revenge he unleashed in the name of justice. When he meets Lacy he is determined not to become involved, but their pasts may make that impossible. As they move closer to the truth, saving Lacy may be his only salvation.
Lacy begins to think the present is more important than her past...until Chance's connection to her mother and a murder spin her deeper into danger and further from love. Will the truth destroy Lacy and Chance or will it be the answer that frees them?
Momentarily struck dumb by his eye color, she stared back. Why hadn’t she noticed until now? Although not as light as hers or her father’s, the professor’s eyes were a startling green shade.
His hand nudged her arm. “Lacy?”
She jumped. “Oh, yes.” She slipped the tissue from the half-carved wolf. Another glance at his eyes and goose bumps riddled her arms.
He lifted the wood close to his face, using both hands as if handling a delicate hummingbird. His thumb traced the neck of the creature to the juncture of where it emerged from the wood. When he brought the piece to his nose, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, Lacy wanted to turn away from the oddly erotic gesture.
He swallowed, opened his eyes and set the wolf back on the tissue. His attention shifted to the photograph of the chest. He touched the photo, a smile on his lips. “Where is the chest?”
The chest. Like he knew it, had seen it before. “I’m having it sent. You’ve seen it before?”
He didn’t move, stared out the window as if deep in thought. “I’d like to show you something, Lacy.”
“All right.” She waited, watching his profile.
He turned and stared into her face a moment. “You’re so very lovely. A creation full of life and passion, surpassing any art form.”
His hypnotic voice floated on the classical strains drifting from the living room. She couldn’t speak. Didn’t know what to say. She’d been lifted upon a pedestal of admiration. With any other man, she might consider his words a means to a sexual end. The professor’s intentions, however, were crystal. He admired her like a work of art.
Brenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States - multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.
Although she didn’t start out to write romance, she’s found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or suspense, all her books revolve around those two facts.
Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.
Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs about writing and prairie life at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/
What would your life be like if your brother was a convicted serial killer? Lonely, as seventeen year-old Sara Shaughnessy knows. She’s spent the last decade on the fringes of society, hated and bullied. And her life is about to take a turn for the worse.
Van Dyk’s novel takes us into the dark world of sin eating and ancient demons, a place where the stakes are high and no one is safe.
Buy Sin Eater at
Dee Van Dyk’s Website: www.deevandyk.com
Dee on Twitter
Every day, on my way to and from school, I pass a pair of size seven sneakers, looped around and dangling from the traffic light, fifteen feet above the intersection. I keep my eyes fixed on them, as I wait for the shrill cheep, cheep, cheep of the walk light telling me it’s safe to cross.
If I’m lucky, I’m waiting alone. If I’m less than lucky, the kids gathering around me to wait for the light are smaller and weaker than me and we all wait silently. Dad always says you make your own luck and today he’s right. If I’d left ten minutes later – my usual time – the trip from school would have been an uneventful one. Today, I’m screwed.
This afternoon, Mason Clester sidles up to me, bumping me forward slightly with his elbow. His breath is warm on the side of my face, stinking of cabbage and garlic.
“Sorry,” he says, and I can hear the smirk in his voice. “My dad says to tell you to say hi to your dad from him.” A fine spray of spit hits my cheek every time he utters an s. I fight back the urge to wipe my coat sleeve across my face and focus on ignoring him. Completely.
I shift my gaze back to the sneakers on the light pole, a pair of blue and green Supernovas, now rocking slightly at a sudden wind gust. They are my sneakers and they have been hanging up there since the beginning of the school year.
Like many people I’m absolutely enthralled by History Channel's The Vikings, but as usual I can’t just enjoy the show I have to know if there are any facts behind the fiction. Unfortunately after days of research I’ve come to realize that I’ll probably never know if Ragnar Lothbrok, and his wife, Lagertha, were real because the Scandinavian people of the Viking age left no written records.
The accounts we have of Ragnar come mainly from The History of the Danes written by Saxo Grammaticus in the 12th century. Scholars disagree as to whether Ragnar really existed. Some say there is historical fact behind the legend, others state that he is a composite of many kings. And if the experts don’t know, how can I? But if I had to guess I’d say there was some truth behind the myth.
My reasoning lies with another Viking, Leif Erikson. For centuries it was believed that the saga describing Erikson’s voyage to Vineland was merely a myth and had no basis in fact, and yet in the early 1960’s Norwegian explorer, Helge Ingstad, and his wife, archeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, discovered proof that the Vikings had, in fact, sailed to North America, and had settled at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
So maybe we can look again at the evidence, take for example, the idea that shield-maidens existed only in myth. My common sense tells me that in a warring society, there must have been women who were proficient with the sword. They would have to be, especially when you consider that the men were gone for long periods, raiding. It’s human nature to protect your home and family no matter what your gender.
Like most pagan peoples the Norse buried their dead with grave goods, so one could assume that shield-maidens were buried with their swords. Once again it’s not that straightforward. Marianne Moen in the January 2013 article Don’t Underestimate Viking Women, says
“There have also been cases of male graves with beads and woven cloths, and women were sometimes buried with smaller weapons, for instance arrowheads. Generally it is fairly obvious what constitutes male or female objects, but the lines were sometimes blurred.”
It seems that archeologists have assumed gender roles based on their own skewed perception rather than the facts. In 1904 a grave ship containing the skeletons of two women was found. Instead of assuming that this was the burial of powerful women in their own right archeologists assumed it was the wife or mother of a powerful man. But could this in fact have been the burial of a Lagertha-like character? Maybe. In the same article Moen also says
“To assume that Viking men were ranked above women is to impose modern values on the past, which would be misleading,”
The experts are now re-examining the evidence, hopefully with fresh eyes. Perhaps one day soon we will have a better glimpse into the the real lives of the Vikings.
Disillusioned with love, career and life in general, Sophie Donnelly retreats to her childhood home. Back in Crystal Ridge her plan is disrupted by the man next door. Her senses are assaulted by the ruggedly handsome, hard-working Jake. How can she convince him she is not just another pretty woman?
Jake McCallum wanted Sophie in high school. Sophie all grown stirs his heart. But he has decided he needs a plain, practical gal who can help run his ranch. Sophie is too pretty to be practical. His head says so. Which will he follow? His head or his heart?
Sophie cupped her face in her hands, elbows digging into her upper legs and rocked. Her legs and arms trembled. Surely something would come to her. Then it did. She wanted to go back home. She wanted to see her mom. Her mom, her only real true friend, would have the right answers. Her mom would help her. She sensed a presence beside her. Someone crouched nearby. Somebody brushed her arm with a hand. But she dared not look, so sure it would be Dennis. Dennis must never realize how much he hurt her. She couldn’t give him that satisfaction. Besides she might well start punching that smug know-it-all face.
“What can I do to help you?”
Her head whipped around and her green eyes widened in shock. This wasn’t Dennis. This apparition appeared to be a cowboy in her dreams. His eyes were narrowed, sultry and dark with long black lashes to match his short dark hair. A cowboy hat was tilted back to reveal his incredible features. His eyes suddenly widened in surprise when he saw her face, then dropped to the ground. He swore. Perplexed, she wanted to ask him what that was about. Before she had the chance, she noticed he was dangling the straps of her sandals with one finger.
“Prince Charming?” Light banter slipped easily inside. Something familiar and calming.
“You want your shoes back little princess?”
He smiled. It took her a moment to compose herself. His smile was breathtaking and vaguely familiar. Had she met him somewhere? No, surely she would remember if she had.
More About Mary Forbes
Born and bred on western stories by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour, I grew up in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan. Although modern life intervened, I soon realized the similarities between my life and North American western past. From riding horses, playing cowboys and Indians with real Indians combined with the scenery of vast, open prairies and endless horizons I was living my dream.
Kelsey Maxwell searches for her birth-father and walks into an investigation with dead bodies and a knife wielding maniac. Not what she had in mind when she started her quest. She teams up with ex-cop Sam Logan to evade a kidnap attempt, the killer and in the end, the police. As the stakes rise, she may have to shoot to kill in order to save her birth father. Will she get a chance to know him? And what about the sexy Sam Logan? No matter what happens, her life is changed forever.
Mahrie G. Reid's Website: www.mahriegreid.com
Kelsey added a frown to the finger wag. “Whatever you heard, if Dad wanted you to know, he'd have invited you to the meeting. To talk about it is gossiping.”
“Andy asked Dad, and I quote, for your hand in marriage.”
Kelsey spit coffee. “What.” Forget the no-gossip rule. This involved her. She grabbed a napkin and wiped up the coffee spatter.
“Figured you might feel like that.” Brock grinned. “I know how it is with Becky and me,” he said and blushed, “and I never got the idea you and Andy were like that.”
“No bloody way,” Kelsey said. “We work together. We've gone to company parties and movies. But that's it.” She sliced a hand through the air. “Period. End of sentence. End of story.” What possessed Andy to think she'd marry him?
Brock snorted. “Well, Andy never did mention love and Dad never asked. They talked about you becoming a partner at the firm and about Andy and you helping run the ranch. The benefits of you two getting married. That type of thing. The conversation held all the charm of selling a prized heifer.”
When researching the life of Emmeline Pankhurst I came across a very disturbing story. I logged it away in the back of my mind, but have been unable to forget it because my conscience won’t let me. So today, I’m going to write about the suffering of the women who won us the right to vote. I’m sorry if you find this article upsetting.
When the women of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) committed arson, protested or caused a disturbance they were thrown in jail. Many of them went on hunger strike to protest their political confinement. It is interesting to note that while all the women went on hunger strike not all were force-fed. Emmeline Pankhurst was never tortured in this way and the same can be said of most of her upper class supporters, but one woman Lady Constance Georgina Bulwer-Lytton, disguised herself as a working class woman, using the identity of Jane Warton. She wanted to shed light on the fate of her lower-class companions. She was arrested, and imprisoned in 1910.
Here is her account of her ordeal:
“He said if I resisted so much with my teeth, he would have to feed me through the nose. The pain of it was intense and at last I must have given way for he got the gag between my teeth, when he proceeded to turn it much more than necessary until my jaws were fastened wide apart, far more than they could go naturally. Then he put down my throat a tube which seemed to me much too wide and was something like four feet in length. The irritation of the tube was excessive. I choked the moment it touched my throat until it had got down. Then the food was poured in quickly; it made me sick a few seconds after it was down and the action of the sickness made my body and legs double up, but the wardresses instantly pressed back my head and the doctor leant on my knees. The horror of it was more than I can describe. I was sick over the doctor and wardresses, and it seemed a long time before they took the tube out. As the doctor left he gave me a slap on the cheek, not violently, but, as it were, to express his contemptuous disapproval, and he seemed to take for granted that my distress was assumed... Before long I heard the sounds of the forced feeding in the next cell to mine. It was almost more than I could bear, it was Elsie Howey, I was sure. When the ghastly process was over and all quiet, I tapped on the wall and called out at the top of my voice, which wasn't much just then, "No surrender," and there came the answer past any doubt in Elsie's voice, "No surrender."
This humiliating experience left them with untold injuries. Lady Constance was imprisoned four times and never fully recovered from the torture of force-feeding. She had her first stroke in 1912 and after a decade of ill health died in 1923.
June Purvis is professor of sociology, University of Portsmouth wrote this in her 1996 article on the subject of force-feeding.
“Nell Hall spoke of the "frightful indignity" of it all, while for Sylvia Pankhurst the sense of degradation endured was worse than the pain of gums, "always sore and bleeding, with bits of loose, jagged flesh" as a sharp steel gag was used to force her jaws open. Although the word "rape" is not used in these accounts, the instrumental invasion of the body, accompanied by overpowering physical force, great suffering and humiliation was akin to it, especially so for women, such as Fanny Parker, fed through the rectum and vagina. The knowledge that new tubes were not always available and that used tubes may have been previously inflicted on diseased people undoubtedly added to the feelings of abuse, dirtiness and indecency that the women felt.`
It’s grim and depressing and makes me want to turn away and ignore their suffering, but as I said at the start, to do so just doesn’t seem right. I don’t consider myself political in any way, but I do consider myself a humanist. When we vote in elections, stand up for our rights, or put our names to a petition to prevent another person – man, woman or child – from suffering, I believe the women who were brutalised as suffragettes would be proud.
In keeping with my Victorian theme I have a special guest here to talk about her ancestors and her new book, introducing Frances Evesham.
Hello and thank you Marlow for so kindly letting me feature on your blog today. I’m Frances Evesham and my novel, An Independent Woman, is available now from The Wild Rose Press.
Like Marlow, I admire a spirited, energetic woman who makes something of her life, as Emmeline Pankhurst did, while still finding love.
I’m old enough to remember some of my own Victorian ancestors. My great aunts, Annie and Winnie, were tiny and neat but they stood for no nonsense. Annie became a schoolteacher while Winnie kept the Post Office in a beautiful Cotswold village, Sibford Gower.
I met them in their later years when they had both retired. At 90, still fiercely independent, their carriage was dainty, their backs as straight as rulers. They made tea for their guests, spooning whole leaves from their precious caddy. This tin box inhabited a special corner cupboard in the immaculate, minute parlour where Annie and Winnie received visitors.
They expected children to sit quietly, rewarding good behaviour with a boiled sweet and a wink, quelling shouting or fidgeting with a single glance. Even the noisiest boy subsided at once under their quizzical gaze.
I thought about Annie and Winnie as my heroine, Philomena, set out on her quest to find independence, alone and adrift in a Victorian world were men had every advantage.
Philomena, feisty and determined, makes plans that seem inevitably to fail, leaving her in a series of predicaments. She never gives up, even when she meets and falls for Hugh, the grand and aristocratic Lord Thatcham, who complicates her life still further. She makes another plan and moves on, just as I imagine Annie and Winnie would have done.
An Independent Woman
With nothing left from her childhood except a tiny portrait of a beautiful woman, some skill with a needle, and the knowledge of a dreadful secret, Philomena escapes her tormentor, Joseph, and the dank fogs of Victorian London, only for a train crash to interrupt her quest for independence and freedom.
Trapped between the upstairs and downstairs occupants of the great country house, Philomena hears whispers of the mysteries and lies that lurk in empty corridors and behind closed doors. Her rescuer, the dangerous, enigmatic Hugh, Lord Thatcham, wrestles with his own demons and makes Philomena’s heart race, but she must fight her passion for she can never marry.
Haunted by her past, Philomena’s only hope of happiness is to confront the evil forces that threaten to destroy her.
To purchase An Independent Woman
Amazon.com print version
Wild Rose Press print version
Wild Rose Press digital versions On Special Today
Her eyes were half closed. His lips brushed gently, soft and warm, over her mouth.
For an endless moment she stayed quite still, beguiled by the spicy sharp taste of his lips. A charge electrified her body.
Then her head cleared. She gasped. Was she mad? This was Lord Thatcham and she was nothing but a penniless waif in his power. He meant to have his way with her, just as Joseph had tried to do.
She tore herself away from the embrace. “How dare you.” Her voice shook with fury. “How dare you treat me so?”
Lord Thatcham’s arms fell away. Blood drained from his countenance, leaving the dark eyes aglow in a white face. He said not a word.
Frances Evesham, Somerset author of the Victorian mystery romance, An Independent Woman, published on 11 June 2014 by The Wild Rose Press, is so fascinated by genealogy that she set her debut novel in the 19th Century as a tribute to her ancestors.
Frances has worked as a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. She’s also spent time as an intermediary with vulnerable people in the English criminal courts.
She lives in Burnham on Sea, collects grandsons and Victorian trivia, cooks with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other and loves the smells of rosemary and garlic.
Writing historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wishes she’d kept on with the piano lessons.
by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website and blog at www.francesevesham.com
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/frances.evesham.writer
I have decided to do a series of book blasts where once a week I will introduce you to the work of my fellow authors. I’m going to start this week with the incomparable Makenzie Fisk and her new novel Just Intuition.
A woman disappears when a shadowy figure turns to murder in a northern Minnesota town. Years later, the murderer strikes again, and an elderly woman burns to death in a fiery blast.
Small town cop Erin Ericsson doesn’t believe it was an accident. With the help of a quirky fellow officer, she defies the investigating detective to pursue the case on her own.
Her girlfriend Allie begins to suffer terrifying visions with a connection to the malevolent presence. Enlisting her reluctant cooperation, Erin struggles to interpret the meaning of the cryptic dreams.
Her police work and Allie’s uncanny insight lead them through unforgiving back woods and face to face with evil. Together they use their skill, and a bit of intuition, to unmask the culprit behind an escalating series of deadly crimes.
You can purchase Just Intuition at the following locations:
Multiple format purchase options: http://www.makenzifisk.com
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KP1P3GK
Makenzi Fisk grew up in a small town in Northwestern Ontario. She spent much of her youth outdoors, surrounded by the rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield. Moving west, she became a police officer with experience in patrols, covert operations, plainclothes investigation, communications and forensic identification. Within the policing environment, she transitioned to internet and graphic design. She now works for herself.
In her novels, Makenzi draws on her knowledge of the outdoors, policing and technology to create vivid worlds where crime, untamed wilderness and intuition blend. Her novels’ characters are competent women who solve crime using skill and a little intuition.
Currently Makenzi resides in Calgary with her partner, their daughter, and assorted furry companions.
Would you be surprised to learn that Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of England’s suffragette movement did not hate men? I was. It never occurred to me that the militant feminist who set empty buildings on fire had actually been a happily married woman.
I’ll start at the beginning, she was born Emmeline Goulden, in Manchester, England, in 1858. Her family were known for their radical politics openly supporting causes such as women’s suffrage, but they weren’t so forward thinking as to want their daughter to have a man's education or to go into politics.
In 1879 Emmeline met and married Richard Pankhurst, a man twenty years her senior. Richard was a lawyer, barrister and an ardent supporter of women’s rights. He authored the Married Woman’s Property Acts of 1870 and 1882. These acts of parliament allowed women to own and control property, keep their earnings, and inherit in their own name.
In her autobiography Emmeline wrote this of her marriage and family life:-
“My home life and relations have been as nearly ideal as possible in this imperfect world. About a year after my marriage my daughter Christabel was born, and in another eighteen months my second daughter Sylvia was to come. Two other children followed, and for some years I was rather deeply immersed in my domestic affairs.
I was never so absorbed with family and children, however, that I lost interest in community affairs. Dr. Pankhurst did not desire that I should turn myself into a household machine. It was his firm belief that society as well as the family stands in need of women’s services. So while my children were still in their cradles I was working on the executive committee of the Women’s Suffrage Society, and also on the executive board of the committee, which was working to secure the Married Women’s Property Act.”
Richard died suddenly from a perforated ulcer in 1898, devastating Emmeline. They had been married for nineteen years. Later that same year, she continued his work by founding the Women's Franchise League, which fought to allow married women to vote in local elections. Not happy with the slow pace of the league, she helped establish the more militant Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in October 1903. It is as head of the WSPU that she came into her own. Emmeline’s actions and those of her followers were quiet radical and included arson, smashing windows, and heckling politicians. Very unladylike behaviour indeed.
The WSPU suspended their militant activities in 1914 on the outbreak of World War I. They were rewarded in 1918 when women over 30 years of age were given the right to vote. Men at this time had the right to vote at 21. Some say the disparity was because so many men had died in the war they didn`t want women voters to outnumber the men. I`m not sure how true that is, but I find the idea thought provoking.
In 1928 women in England were finally given equal voting rights to men. The years to lecturing, touring, activism and hunger strikes had taken their toll on Emmeline`s health and she died later that same year.
I was struck by two things with Emmeline`s life the first was how profoundly she was influenced by her husband. I suppose the old saying that behind every great man there`s a great woman can be reversed for Emmeline because without Richard’s encouragement and support she might not have achieved her goals.
She did not hate men and her fight was not about taking away the rights of male voters. It was about giving women the freedom and power to choose.