Box icon Caroline Norton (1808-1877)

Determined campaigner

Portrait of Caroline Norton

Caroline Norton married George Norton in 1827. Theirs was a very unhappy and broken marriage and George often beat her. Unfortunately this was at a time when women had very few legal rights. Caroline liked to write and this introduced her into a wider literary circle, which her husband disapproved of.

After George falsely accused Caroline of having an affair with Lord Melbourne (Caroline Lamb's widower), the marriage completely deteriorated. George could not now get the divorce he wished, but he used his legal rights to separate Caroline from their three sons.

This separation devastated Caroline and she passionately and successfully campaigned for fairer social laws especially for women in marriage and the rights of children. In her campaigns for reform Norton wrote poems, political pamphlets, novels and plays. Her poem 'A Voice from the Factories' (1836) raised the problems faced by child workers. She outlived George and had a brief second marriage.

Highlighted items from the archive

NRA Name: Norton, Caroline Elizabeth Sarah (1808-1877) née Sheridan, poet and campaigner for women's rights.

The National Register of Archives (NRA) contains information on the nature and location of manuscripts and historical records that relate to British history in archival holdings in the UK and overseas. You can find more information on the National Register of Archives name authority catalogue.

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Other Murray authors in politics and society:

'As poetry is the language of feeling, it should be the language of the multitude.'
– Dedication, Norton's 'A Voice from the Factories', 1836'

Related links on the web:

'The wife who changed history' article from the Mail Online

Location where Caroline Norton lived:
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