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Scotch Verdict: The Real-Life Story that Inspired
     

Scotch Verdict: The Real-Life Story that Inspired "The Children's Hour"

by Lillian Faderman
 

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In 1810, a Scottish student named Jane Cumming accused her school mistresses, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, of having an affair in the presence of their students. Dame Cumming Gordon, the wealthy and powerful grandmother of the accusing student, advises her friends to remove their daughters from the Drumsheugh boarding school. Within days, the institution is deserted

Overview

In 1810, a Scottish student named Jane Cumming accused her school mistresses, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, of having an affair in the presence of their students. Dame Cumming Gordon, the wealthy and powerful grandmother of the accusing student, advises her friends to remove their daughters from the Drumsheugh boarding school. Within days, the institution is deserted and two women are deprived of their livelihoods.

Award-winning author Lillian Faderman recreates the events surrounding this notorious case, which became the basis for Lillian Hellman’s famous play, The Children’s Hour. Reconstructing the libel suit filed by Pirie and Woods, which resulted in a scotch verdict, or a verdict of inconclusive/not proven, Faderman builds a compelling narrative from court transcripts, judge’s notes, witnesses’ contradictory testimony, and the prejudices of the men presiding over the case. Her fascinating portrait documents the social, economic, and sexual pressures that shaped the lives of nineteenth-century women and the issues of class and gender that contributed to their marginalization.

Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Book Review - Aron Row

An absorbing transcript detailing the evolution of our understanding of the sexual relationships between women using the Scotch trial as the lynchpin. The story is mesmerizing while the writing is riveting.

Signs - Terry Castle

Faderman continues her valuable excavations of the archaeology of erotic relationships between women.... [She] has succeeded in recreating an absorbing, often peculiarly moving courtroom drama.

Women's Review of Books - Karla Jay

The records are fascinating: they open up for us the worlds of the young female student and the schoolmistress, as well as the workings of the judicial system of early nineteenth-century Scotland. Beyond that, they make us privy to a unique glimpse of what lesbianism was considered to be at the time.... A brilliant find.

Globe and Mail - William French

Faderman, a noted U.S. feminist, recreates the trial superbly, using the original transcripts and her own detective work. She examines the trial from a feminist viewpoint, showing how it revealed the prevailing attitudes toward women in a phallocentric society. Her approach is valid and compelling, but her story is fascinating on many other levels as well.... Totally engrossing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231533249
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
01/08/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
6 MB

Meet the Author

Lillian Faderman is professor emerita of English at California State University, Fresno, and author of the award-winning Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America and Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present. She is also the author of Naked in the Promised Land: A Memoir and To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America—A History, and coauthor of Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians.

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