The marriage to a deceased wife's sister narrative: a comparison of novels

Charlotte Frew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


In 1835, Lord Lyndhurst's Act made marriage to a deceased wife's sister illegal in England. This sparked a seven-decade debate in Parliament, pamphlets, press, and fiction, which led to the legalization of deceased wife's sister unions throughout the Australian colonies in the 1870s and in England in 1907. Pro-reformers and anti-reformers attempted to dominate the debate with their characterizations of the men and women who engaged in such unions. This article compares fictional representations of the sister-in-law marriage plot in England and in colonial Australia, differences in pro-reform themes between these countries, and their respective legislative outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-291
Number of pages27
JournalLaw and Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Published as Law and Literature, vol. 24, No. 2, p. 265-291. © 2012 by [he Regents of the University of California/Sponsoring Society or Association. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of the Sponsoring Society for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on [Caliber ( or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center,


  • Australian colonial novels
  • Deceased wife's sister
  • Dinah Mulock Craik/Hannah
  • English novels
  • Lord Lyndhurst
  • Marriage
  • Mary Alice Dale
  • Nineteenth century
  • With Feet of Clay


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