Caroline Sheridan, the Hon. Mrs George Norton (afterwards Lady Stirling-Maxwell), 1808 - 1877. Poet

About this artwork

Caroline Norton was a poet, author and social reformer. Norton left her abusive husband who subsequently brought an action of adultery against her and the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. This was unsuccessful, but although she was guiltless, her husband still had the right to keep her children from her. From then on, Norton dedicated herself to reforming the laws relating to divorce and child custody. She wrote to Queen Victoria in 1855 on the subject of the Marriage and Divorce Bill, pointing out “the grotesque anomaly which ordains that married women shall be non-existent in a country governed by a female sovereign.” She also noted that because of differences between Scottish and English law, women in Scotland enjoyed more rights, for example, with regard to property.