In 1830s Sydney, a visiting aristocrat, Viscount Lascelles, is exposed as a former convict. In Cape Town, during the same decade, veiled accusations of incest and murmurs about a concealed pregnancy surround the family of the Chief Justice, Sir John Wylde. In these British colonies, the divide between the respectable and the disreputable is not as vast as might first appear. Rumour and hearsay muddy the lines between public and private worlds, and ensure that secret transgressions do not remain secret for very long. Scandal in the Colonies explores how colonial societies offered European settlers the opportunity to invent new identities, an opportunity exploited with a vengeance. But as people, goods and correspondence crossed the imperial realm, scandal was never far behind. In this lively and richly researched book Kirsten McKenzie uncovers the hidden stories of two port towns that were rife with gossip and dubious reputations. She argues that scandal influenced imperial policy and became a key element in the emergence of societies divided by class and race.
Touching on themes such as masculinity and commercial culture, female sexuality in civil litigation and gossip in political culture, McKenzie offers a fresh and engaging approach to colonial history.