chapter  11
15 Pages

Trust, authenticity and bigamy in twentieth-century England

WithClaire Langhamer

This chapter analyses the representation of bigamy within the English courts in the middle years of the twentieth century. It uses press reports of these trials to consider the work that emotion did, or was held to do, within the formation, experience and dissolution of relationships. Bigamy apparently undermined marriage by disregarding its legal foundations, but where love was invoked as a defence it also celebrated the relational aspects of marriage and pointed up its favoured status. Bigamy cases therefore simultaneously demonstrate the precariousness and the desirability of legal commitment. They also attest to the perceived power of authentic emotion.