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Living In SinCohabiting As Husband and Wife in Nineteenth-century England$
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Ginger S. Frost

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780719077364

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719077364.001.0001

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Cross-class cohabitation

Cross-class cohabitation

(p.148) 7 Cross-class cohabitation
Living In Sin

Ginger S. Frost

Manchester University Press

This chapter concentrates on cross-class couples. Cross-class unions combined exploitative and advantageous elements for men and women, both defying and deferring to class and gender expectations. The participants in most cross-class cohabitation expected them to be temporary. These cohabitees broke into two groups: professional mistresses and poor women who preferred to marry, but chose to live with better-off men rather than lose them. Professional mistresses earned a good living. Mistresses had prosperity in the short run, but little security; thus, they had to be both romantic and businesslike, an uneasy combination. Both partners' families were unenthusiastic about the relationships in cross-class unions. Cross-class cohabitees defied two conventions of Victorian life: they had sexual relations outside of their social strata and without marriage. Cross-class couples resembled those who could not marry, since many of the men did not believe they could reconcile their families to marriages with unsuitable women.

Keywords:   cross-class couples, cross-class unions, cross-class cohabitation, professional mistresses, marriage, Victorian life, sexual relations

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