Lawrence Stone is one of the world's foremost historians. In such widely acclaimed volumes as The Crisis of the Aristocracy, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England and The Open Society, he has shown himself to be a provocative and engaging writer as well as a master chronicler of English family life. Now, with Road to Divorce, Stone examines the complex ways in which English men and women have used, twisted, and defied the law to deal with marital breakdown.
Despite the infamous divorce of Henry VIII in 1529, Britons before the 20th century were predominantly, in Stone's words, "a non-divorcing and non-separating society." In fact, before divorce was legalized in 1857, England was the only Protestant country with virtually no avenue for divorce on the grounds of adultery, desertion, or cruelty. Yet marriages did fail, and in Road to Divorce, Stone examines a goldmine of court records--in which witnesses speak freely about love, sex, adultery, and marriage--memoirs, correspondence, and popular imaginative works to reveal how lawyers and the laity coped with marital discord. Equally important, in tracing the history of divorce, Stone has discovered a way to recapture the slow, irregular, and tentative evolution of moral values concerning relations between the sexes as well as the consequent shift from concepts of patriarchy to those of sexual equality. He thus offers a privileged, indeed almost unique, insight into the interaction of the public spheres of morality, religion, and the law.
Written by the foremost historian of family life, Road to Divorce provides the first full study of a topic rich in historical interest and contemporary importance, one that offers astonishingly frank and intimate insights into our ancestors' changing views about what makes and breaks a marriage.
`Professor Stone has produced an immense scholarly and entertaining account of the law and custom of marriage ... and the development of legal remedies for failed marriage' Civil Justice Quarterly. `an interesting and scholarly study of our chaotic and hypocritical attitude to marriage until, in the 1960s, we gave up the pretence that ours was a Christian country.' Piers Paul Read, The Spectator (Books of the Year) `... fascinating study ...' Maureen Duffy, New Statesman and Society `... engrossing and masterly historical survey ...Road to Divorce is a serious book with a sombre subject. It is also, I'm afraid, magnificently entertaining. It will be supplemented by two further volumes of case histories, referred to in the text but not yet available, Uncertain Unions and Broken Lives. Heartlessly, perhaps, I can hardly wait to read them.' Claire Tomalin, The Independent on Sunday `... fascinating history ...' Rosalind Coward, Observer `... there can be no arguing that the author has plowed new and fertile ground. Essential for all academic collections, this work cuts across a host of disciplines.' Library Journal `fascinating study' Maureen Duffy, New Statesman & Society `The book itself is an outstanding achievement. ... a meticulous work of scholarship that demonstrates his mastery of an unbelievably vast seam of primary sources. It is also a highly entertaining book, as well as being profoundly disturbing in parts, particularly when it illustrates the fate of women in a non-divorcing culture.' Richard Holloway, Church Times `Stone has written a stimulating companion to his fascinating Family, Sex and Marriage in England ... another splendid and original work by our leading historian of the family.' Christopher Hibbert, Sunday Times `engrossing and masterly historical survey Road to Divorce is a serious book with a sombre subject ... It is also, I'm afraid, magnificently entertaining. It will be supplemented by two further volumes of case histories, referred to in the text but not yet available, Uncertain Unions and Broken Lives. Heartlessly, perhaps, I can hardly wait to read them.' Claire Tomalin, The Independent on Sunday `... a fascinating insight into changing attitudes to women, children, love and sex.' Richard Heller, The Mail on Sunday `Stone now brings to bear his ample research skills and incisive analytical abilities in a detailed study of divorce in modern England ... a balanced view of a topic that has long needed a historian ... the author has plowed new and fertile ground. Essential for all academic collections, this work cuts across a host of disciplines.' James A. Casada, Winthrop College, Rock Hill, Southern California, Library Journal `This is a detailed and absorbing study.' Illustrated London News `fascinating study' New Statesman & Society `... it breathes new life into an old subject by advancing fresh hypotheses and much fascinating new material.' Keith Thomas, The New York Review `an outstanding achievement ... a meticulous work of scholarship that demonstrates his mastery of an unbelievably vast seam of primary sources ... It is also a highly entertaining book.' Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh, Church Times `a stimulating companion to his fascinating Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1550-1800 ... this one can be welcomed as another splendid and original work by our leading historian of the family' Christopher Hibbert, Sunday Times `scholarly work ... Professor Stone's history is essential reading for anyone interested in the complex and tortuous manner in which a society responds to laws affecting the family.' Ronan Keane, Irish Times `a lively and informative account of how, by a slow and piecemeal process, a non-divorcing society was transformed into one in which divorce is all too common ... an entertaining, soundly based account' J.A. Sharpe, History Today, March 1991 `the best history of English divorce so far published ... By giving so clear and eminently readable an account of "perhaps the most profound and far-reaching social change to have occurred in the last five hundred years", Professor Stone has put us all in his debt.' R. A. Houlbrooke, Social History Society Newsletter `The story of marriage and divorce law is extremely complicated. Stone's account is comprehensive and authoritative.' 20th Century British History, Volume 3, No. 1 `Lawrence Stone always writes long books, but they are never boring. This one is written with his usual clarity and vigour ... it raises a multitude of issues, clearly, trenchantly and provocatively, which can now be discussed. And it is a pleasure to read.' Social History `the volume is a solid achievement, one that advances both knowledge and conjecture' The Economic History Review `This is the best history of English divorce so far published ... It is a fascinating story, full of comedy and tragedy, which Professor Stone tells with characteristic panache ... By giving so clear and eminently readable an account of `perhaps the most profound and far-reaching social change to have occurred in the last five hundred years'. Professor Stone has put us all in his debt.' Social History Society Newsletter, Spring 1991 `Lawrence Stone's books carry the stamp of greatness. Physically elegant, weighty, written with persuasive elegance, they confront major themes'. Paul Thompson, History Workshop. `This sweeping survey of marriage and divorce across four and a half centuries has all the hallmarks of boldness and insight which we have come to associate with Professor Stone's works ... magisterial survey, anyone who wishes to understand the human relationship at the heart of social history or the background to curerent debates will want to read this book.' Edward Royle, University of York, History, February 1992 `Stone maintains his reputation as a researcher of prodigious energy and learning. The current study, though not dry, is an exhaustively detailed account of how husbands, wives and lawyers, faced with blighted marriages, attempted to turn the law to their own advantage. The Road to Divorce will certainly appeal to the legally minded.' Angus McLaren, University of Victoria, Globe and Mail, 20 July 1991 `the volume is a solid achievement, one that advances both knowledge and conjecture' R.B. Outhwaite, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge,Economic History Review, Aug 1991 `monumental study ...It makes a gripping story, which Stone reconstructs skilfully and with gusto. ... a magisterial treatment of one of the most central social changes in modern English history. His book fills a significant gap in the history of domestic life in England since the Middle Ages and will remain an essential reference point for social historians for many years to come.' James A. Brundage, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 'Stone's most valuable and original contribution here is his detailed description of strategies like the private separation deed, judicial separation in the Ecclesiastical Courts and the action for criminal conversation. His well-informed sifting of the complexities of canon law, common law and civil law in marital litigation will provide a more useful reference for historians than the standard legal histories.' A. James Hammerton, La Trobe University, Gender and History
Number Of Pages: 488
Published: 11th October 1990
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.4 x 3.5
Weight (kg): 1.0