The Great Catastrophe of My Life: Divorce in the Old Dominion

by Thomas E. S.J. Buckley

Published: September 2002
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press, The
Pages: 360
Paperback
ISBN: 9780807853801

       

Overview of The Great Catastrophe of My Life: Divorce in the Old Dominion

From the end of the Revolution until 1851, the Virginia legislature granted most divorces in the state. It did so rarely, however, turning down two-thirds of those who petitioned for them. Men and women who sought release from unhappy marriages faced a harsh legal system buttressed by the political, religious, and communal cultures of southern life. Through the lens of this hostile environment, Thomas Buckley explores with sympathy the lives and legal struggles of those who challenged it.

Based on research in almost 500 divorce files, The Great Catastrophe of My Life involves a wide cross-section of Virginians. Their stories expose southern attitudes and practices involving a spectrum of issues from marriage and family life to gender relations, interracial sex, adultery, desertion, and domestic violence. Although the oppressive legal regime these husbands and wives battled has passed away, the emotions behind their efforts to dissolve the bonds of marriage still resonate strongly.

Synopsis of The Great Catastrophe of My Life: Divorce in the Old Dominion


From the end of the Revolution until 1851, the Virginia legislature granted most divorces in the state. It did so rarely, however, turning down two-thirds of those who petitioned for them. Men and women who sought release from unhappy marriages faced a harsh legal system buttressed by the political, religious, and communal cultures of southern life. Through the lens of this hostile environment, Thomas Buckley explores with sympathy the lives and legal struggles of those who challenged it.

Based on research in almost 500 divorce files, The Great Catastrophe of My Life involves a wide cross-section of Virginians. Their stories expose southern attitudes and practices involving a spectrum of issues from marriage and family life to gender relations, interracial sex, adultery, desertion, and domestic violence. Although the oppressive legal regime these husbands and wives battled has passed away, the emotions behind their efforts to dissolve the bonds of marriage still resonate strongly.

Jan Lewis

In the process of teaching us everything there is to know about divorce in antebellum Virginia, Thomas Buckley tells some remarkable stories, and he tells them well.

Reviews of The Great Catastrophe of My Life: Divorce in the Old Dominion

There are no reviews yet. Perhaps you can add one!

Editorials

From the Publisher

"In the process of teaching us everything there is to know about divorce in antebellum Virginia, Thomas Buckley tells some remarkable stories, and he tells them well. (Jan Lewis, Rutgers University at Newark)"

Jan Lewis

In the process of teaching us everything there is to know about divorce in antebellum Virginia, Thomas Buckley tells some remarkable stories, and he tells them well.

Available to Buy