Jessica Mann

Working Girl

Love and Dirt: The Marriage of Arthur Munby and Hannah Cullwick


Macmillan 365pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

When Arthur Munby died in 1907, his books and papers were deposited in Trinity College, Cambridge. Two boxes were to be kept locked and unexamined until 1950 and his reasons for making this proviso become obvious from the extracts quoted in this book. The deed boxes were filled with hundreds of his wife’s letters and all her diaries, as well as his own notebooks and photographs, decades’ worth of explicit material describing a relationship which even now seems deeply weird and would have been quite beyond the pale in the Victorian era.

Munby was born into the respectable middle class, and became a barrister, minor poet and man of letters, whose social life was spent in a circle of writers and artists such as R D Blackmore and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Privately and surreptitiously

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