Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Joanne Bailey co-authors (racy) popular history book on marital breakdown!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Dr Joanne Bailey has recently co-authored and published A Noble Affair: The Remarkable True Story of the Runaway Wife, the Bigamous Earl, and the Farmer's Daughter with Professor Rebecca Probert, Professor of Law at Warwick University, and Dr Julie Shaffer, Professor in English at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The three authors pooled their fascination with eighteenth-century marital breakdown to write about the scandalous marriage of Henry Cecil, heir to the earldom of Exeter. His union with Emma, the heiress of Hanbury Hall, ended in disaster when she eloped with the local curate. Heartbroken, Henry disappeared to a remote Shropshire village and married a farmer's daughter - without having divorced his first wife... The story of Henry Cecil's matrimonial entanglements became part of the "sex panic" literature of the 1790s before being reinterpreted by the Victorians as a classic Cinderella tale of rags to riches, and even in the twentieth century it was still being told and retold. A Noble Affair untangles fact from fiction and reveals that in some respects Henry did indeed behave nobly.