31 October ¦ Harriet MacMillan
Whilst many may not recognise her name, women living in Britain today owe Caroline Norton (1808-77) a great debt. Her zealous pursuit of reform led to landmark changes in the recognition of women in the law. Her campaigning directly propelled the passing of the Custody of Infants Act of 1839, which gave women the right to custody of their children. She also influenced the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870, which gave women the legal right to their own money. Although Norton certainly influenced the past, does her life still have resonance with contemporary feminist struggles? Can looking back on her story help us understand some of the challenges facing women, particularly famous women, today?