Events, Seminars

[CANCELLED] 10th November: Dr Hannah Telling, “Villainous Harpies”: Women, everyday violence, and justice in Scotland, 1850-1914

Event Cancellation

Due to illness, this seminar will unfortunately be postponed to a later date. More details regarding the rescheduling of this seminar will be forthcoming. Please do keep an eye out on our website, Twitter (@WomensHistNet), and Facebook page for more information!

Our next session on Wednesday, 24 November 2021, 4pm GMT will be the book launch event of Dr. Alexandra Hughes-Johnson and Dr. Lyndsey Jenkins’s ‘The Politics of Women’s Suffrage: Local, National, and International Dimensions’. We’d love to see you there!

In the meantime, please do feel free to check out our great roster of other seminars in our Autumn/Winter series. Thank you so much for your interest, and apologies for the inconvenience! We hope you will join us at our other seminars!


Dr Hannah Telling, “Villainous Harpies”: Women, everyday violence, and justice in Scotland, 1850-1914

Leaf through the pages of a nineteenth century Scottish newspaper and a cultural fascination with crime, vice and violence is ever-present. Whilst throughout this period, violent crime (with a few exceptions) became increasingly associated with the masculine excesses of unruly working-class men, women were by no means immune from either criminal enterprise or the long arm of the law. Indeed, in the Scottish press, references to wayward women were commonplace. ‘Violent furies’ assaulted lone men on dark streets for the sake of the few shillings in his pocket, ‘fair bruisers’ settled workplace disputes with their fists in front of cheering crowds, and ‘household fiends’ upended the household hierarchy as declared ‘husband-beaters’. Yet, whilst treated as an object of derision (or just salacious entertainment), representations of women’s violent offending often lacked the inherent threat that men’s equivalent behaviour implied. To what extent, therefore, did ideas of gender shape official and cultural responses to criminalised female violence in this period, and how did ideas of class, ethnicity and respectability intersect with this? Focusing on women’s alleged violent offending and its prosecution before Scotland’s Police and Sheriff Courts between 1850 and 1914, this paper will explore what an examination of women’s experience of justice can reveal about gender, class, punishment and ideas of criminal capacity in Scotland between 1850 and 1914.

‘In A Police Charge Room’, Dundee Evening Post (2.11.1901), p.5


Dr Hannah Telling is Economic History Society Power Fellow, 2020/21



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