Diane Atkinson

The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton
  • The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton

  • Diane Atkinson

    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.

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 and Love and Dirt: The Marriage of Arthur Munby and Hannah Cullwick, which was published in 2003.