Now who would have thought a lady would run off with the chauffeur? (Outside Downton Abbey, of course)
So imagine my surprise when, among the digitised newspapers of the British Library Archive, while doing my research for We That Are Left) I found a lady who had done just that: left a live of misery with her husband to find true love and happiness with the chauffeur.
It’s an account of a divorce case held in 1915. There are only a few lines, but it hints at a fascinating story, and one that is rather sad on both sides. This was a time when a divorce was almost unthinkable (and practically impossible to get if you were a woman), and a scandal when it occurred. It was when sex and sexuality and relationships were not discussed, and certainly not abuse or neglect, or even simple incompatibility. So just the few lines of the case speak volumes:
‘Your treatment of me was unendurable and I could not keep up the farce of being your wife in name only…. I have never known until the present what the love of a good man means.’
The lady’s husband responded by begging her not to ruin his life, trying to find her, and then delaying the divorce for three years, effectively preventing it from being granted.
The details will never be known, only guessed at. But by the fact that the lady and the chauffeur had not been found suggests that this was true love, and I, for one, hope that somewhere far away they had a long and happy life together.
If you want to read more about my research using online newspapers, you can read my post on the Novelistas blog here
And if you want to find out more about the invaluable British Newspaper Archive, you can find out here