Book Reviews -- Emily Faithfull: Victorian Champion of Women's Rights by James S. Stone

Article excerpt

Stone, James S. Emily Faithfull: Victorian Champion of Women's Rights. Toronto: P.D. Meany, 1994. 336 pp. $38.

James S. Stone provides a meticulously documented biography of the public life of Emily Faithfull, founder and manager of the Victoria Press and editor of Victoria Magazine in late nineteenth-century London. Indeed, a third of the book is devoted to its extensive endnotes, which make clear the depth and care the author has brought to the work.

Faithfull's career was interrupted, though, when she was called as a witness in a notorious divorce case. Her role in the Codrington case effectively cut her off from genteel British society--and from achieving her deserved place in the history of women's rights. Although her upper-class friends no longer socialized with her (and omitted her from their histories), she continued to be as prominent as ever in the public arena, as this biography demonstrates.

The pivotal event for Faithfull, though, seems to have occurred in her private life: the Codrington case. Professor Stone outlines the facts of the case in chapter one, but does not provide interpretation. Nor is there enough information for readers to draw their own conclusions. As a result, each later mention of it is a reminder that one does not have enough information on the key event in her life.

In the Codrington case, the husband alleged that Faithfull was providing a trysting place for his wife and her lover; the wife countercharged that while she was asleep in bed with Faithfull, her husband entered and tried to initiate a "connexion" with Faithfull. …


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