The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women's Writing

Living Edition
| Editors: Lesa Scholl (Editor-in-Chief)

Norton, Caroline

Living reference work entry


Caroline Norton (1808–1877) enjoyed a varied and prolific career as an author. She was well known as a popular poet, novelist, and editor as well as a controversial polemicist. Norton pioneered political activism to protect the legal status of mothers and wives, and her efforts led to the first statutory limitations on the powers granted to husbands under the principle of coverture. This entry provides an overview of her life and work, focusing particularly on how scandal, celebrity, and her intervention into political debate shaped her reputation during her lifetime and afterwards. In addition, the discussion addresses how recent scholarly interest in her political essays on the legal disabilities of women has energised reevaluations of her literary work.


Caroline Norton (1808–1877) – poet, novelist, editor, and polemist – embodied the talents and beauty of her paternal grandparents, Richard Sheridan (1751–1816) and Elizabeth Ann Linley Sheridan (1754–1792)....


Coverture Beauty Scandal Political debate 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.History DepartmentSt. Mary’s College of MarylandSt Mary’s CityUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Emily Morris
    • 1
  1. 1.St. Thomas More College, University of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada