Courtship and the Remarrying Man in Late-Victorian England
AbstractThe remarrying man has attracted relatively little historiographical attention, both absolutely and particularly for the nineteenth century. Their motivations for marriage and experiences of courtship have been subsumed into wide generalizations, such as the sense that men with children had to remarry in order to evidence their masculinity and to obtain care for their children. This article challenges such generalizations. Focusing on the detailed courtship letters of a remarrying man and his bride, it provides a detailed anatomization of the courtship process. The article draws particular lessons—for instance that personality mattered and that the giving of gifts played a different role in the courtships of remarrying men than was the case in first marriages—but concentrates on the more general issues that arise from the single case study. These include the sense that accumulated history acutely shaped the courtship strategies and experiences of remarrying men and their potential brides, that there was generally little discussion of the economics of the “match” in the case of remarrying men, and that the issue of prior children was surprisingly unimportant to the conduct of a courtship. The article thus has fundamental lessons for our understanding of nineteenth-century remarriage.