chapter  7
14 Pages

The Will: Inheritance Distribution and Feuding Families

ByDEIRDRE DRAKE

Inheritances given and received are the mainstay of Victorian novels. Plots hinge on whether someone becomes a beneciary unexpectedly or-as the above example illustrates-expectations of great wealth fail to eventuate. Life trajectories, as those authors show us, can be irrevocably altered at the whim of a capricious testator. Battles over inheritance still excite attention, as continued interest in the sensationalized reporting of Anna Nicole Smith’s story attests: the “scheming women” and “roguish companions” in Mr. Justice Hannen’s 1885 judgment in Wingrove v. Wingrove routinely reappear in contemporary court cases.