tue04oct6:30 pmOnline Lecture: “Vile assignations and adulterous beds": Adultery and the law in Regency EnglandOnline talk by Emily Paterson-Morgan6:30 pm Book Now

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£5 members/£7 non-members

In Don Juan, the poet Lord Byron describes England as a ‘low, newspaper, humdrum, lawsuit country’. He makes this statement in the middle of a series of stanzas about the dire consequences of being exposed for adultery, specifically ‘when, without regard to “Church and State,” / A wife makes, or takes, love in upright earnest’. This leads ineluctably, the narrator explains, to a courtroom and ‘A Verdict – grievous foe to those who cause it!’. This is typically followed by a public scandal, ‘when the delicacies of the law [fill] the Papers with their comments various’.

Adultery was widely accepted, and even expected, amongst the aristocracy in Georgian England, where arranged marriages fostered a culture of sexual tolerance. However, although this louche libertinism was vehemently denounced by from pulpits, debated in parliament, and consistently attacked in print – that did not stop the public eagerly demanding what Byron mockingly calls ‘tales of love unlawful’. Using Byron’s poem Don Juan as a focal lens, this talk looks at some of the adultery scandals of the early 1800s and the resultant criminal conversation trials, and explores the power of these publicized adultery trials to shape popular mental landscapes.

Emily Paterson-Morgan is an independent scholar and the Director of The Byron Society. She has published a number of articles on various aspects of Byron’s life and works, recently edited a special issue of The Byron Journal, and is currently researching Byron’s engagement with adultery discourses in English print culture. She is based in Dubai, UAE, where she works as Head of Publishing for Knowledge E.

The talks starts at 6.30pm. Joining details will be sent to attendees the day before.

Georgian Group members are eligible for a discount on their ticket by entering GGMEMBER at the checkout.

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(Tuesday) 6:30 pm

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