Weather Icon 9.5°C Partly Cloudy
New book launches for Valentine’s Day
Friday 14th February 2014 @ 12:00 by Nigel Skinner

Denise Bates

Tameside author Denise Bates is celebrating the publication of her latest book in time for Valentine’s Day today.

Although the ‘tales of love’ in her new work are actually for the most part ones of heartbreak, or worse, betrayal.

“Based on original research, this social history of the breach of promise law, shows that when men behaved badly, hell had no fury like a woman scorned,” says Denise.

Or in fact vice-versa, as men could just as easily sue their female counterparts, although that may have been somewhat less common.

The new book is entitled Breach of Promise to Marry, a History of How Jilted Brides Settled Scores.

Denise was initially inspired to write the book by reading about two very different breach of promise cases in a Victorian newspaper and wondered who the real ‘Miss Havishams’ were.

While Dickens’ famously embittered spinster Miss Havisham stopped all her clocks on her wedding day and ‘never since looked upon the light of day’, the reality was actually much brighter for thousands of jilted women in those days.

For the real Miss Havishams didn’t mope in faded wedding finery – they hired lawyers and struck the first ‘no win, no fee’ deals to sue for breach of promise.

From the 1790s right up to the 1960s, jilted women (and sometimes rejected suitors) employed a range of tactics to bring false lovers to book.

In her book Denise uncovers more than 1,000 forgotten cases of women who found very different endings to their fictional counterpart.

What makes her book particularly appealing and interesting is the new research that Denise has undertaken to bring fascinating tales to light.

Stories like Gladys Knowles who was awarded a record £10,000 damages by a jury in 1890, or Daisy Mons who discreetly negotiated a £50,000 settlement from a Lord.

Or Mary Elizabeth Smith, who forged evidence of a courtship to entrap an Earl, or tragically Catherine Kempshall who shot the man who denied their engagement.

You can ‘listen again’ to the Tameside Reporter Show, broadcast at 8pm on Tameside Radio 103.6FM on Thursday, February 13, when Denise spoke about her new book with Nigel Skinner.