Until well into the twentieth century, heartbroken men and women in Australia had a legal redress for their suffering: jilted lovers could claim compensation for 'breach of promise to marry'. Hundreds of people, mostly from the working classes, came before the courts, and their stories give us a tantalising insight into the romantic landscape of the past – where couples met, how they courted, and what happened when flirtations turned sour. In packed courtrooms and breathless newspaper reports, love letters were read as contracts and private gifts and gossip scrutinised as evidence.
In celebration of Library Lovers' Day, join Alecia Simmonds for a discussion of love and loss in her new book, Courting: An Intimate History of Love and the Law (2023). In this book, she brings these stories vividly to life, revealing the entangled histories of love and the law.
Dr Alecia Simmonds is a senior lecturer in law at the University of Technology, Sydney. She has published in national and international journals on the relationship between intimacy, imperialism, gender, race and law in Australia and the Pacific. Her first book, Wild Man, won the 2016 Davitt Prize for best nonfiction crime writing. She has been the recipient of prestigious academic grants and her writing has appeared in publications including The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Arena and Inside Story.