“Utterly Subversive of Feminine Delicacy”: Victorian Sensibilities and the Unspeakable Allegations in Countess Russell’s Divorce Suit

  • Michael Bedo
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


This chapter examines one of the major society scandals of the late Victorian period, the divorce of the Earl and Countess Russell, in the context of anxiety about threats to the home and traditional feminine roles at the end of the nineteenth century. The sensational details were widely covered in the national and provincial press, and the revelations encompass accusations of cruelty, insolvency and, most shockingly of all, male homosexuality. The young Countess Russell was championed and then reviled by the press as doubt was cast on her sincerity. The role and influence of her mother, Lady Scott, was also scrutinised, and this chapter explores how she was portrayed as having betrayed her maternal role by contaminating her daughter’s innocence.


Divorce of the Earl and Countess Russell Traditional feminine roles Male homosexuality Maternal role 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Bedo
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarLondonUK

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