Scandal and Survival in Nineteenth-Century Scotland
Title Details

1st February 2020

356 Pages

22.86 x 15.24 cm

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Scandal and Survival in Nineteenth-Century Scotland

The Life of Jane Cumming

by Frances B. Singh

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  • Contents
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Uncovers the life of Jane Cumming, who scandalized her contemporaries with tales of sexual deviancy but also defied cultural norms, standing up to male authority figures and showing resilience.
In 1810 Edinburgh, the orphaned Scottish-Indian schoolgirl Jane Cumming alleged that her two schoolmistresses were sexually intimate. The allegation spawned a defamation suit that pitted Jane's grandmother, a member of the Scottish landed gentry, against two young professional women who were romantic friends. During the trial, the boundary between passion and friendship among women was debated and Jane was viewed "orientally," as morally corrupt and hypersexual. Located at the intersection of race, sex, and class, the case has long been a lightning rod for scholars of cultural studies, women's and gender history, and, given Lillian Hellman's appropriation of Jane's story in her 1934 play The Children's Hour, theater history as well. Frances B. Singh's wide-ranging biography, however, takes a new, psychological approach, putting the notorious case in the context of a life that was marked by loss, separation, abandonment--and resilience.

Grounded in archival and genealogical sources never before consulted, Singh's narrative reconstructs Cumming's life from its inauspicious beginnings in a Calcutta orphanage through her schooling in Elgin and Edinburgh, an abusive marriage, her adherence to the Free Church at the time of the Scottish Disruption, and her posthumous life in Hellman's Broadway play. Singh provides a detailed analysis not only ofthe case itself, but of how both Jane's and her teachers' lives were affected in the aftermath.

Frances B. Singh is Professor Emerita at Hostos Community College (CUNY).
Introduction: Placing Jane
Ante Jane
Educating Jane (1)
Educating Jane (2)
Jane and the Lords of the Law (1)
Jane and the Lords of the Law (2)
Jane and William Tulloch
Jane, Posthumously
Conclusion: Assessing Jane
Acknowledgments
Appendix A: Marianne Woods, Jane Pirie and Romantic Friendship
Appendix B: What Really Happened to Miss Marianne Woods and Miss Jane Pirie?
Appendix C: Corinna: A Ballad
Appendix D: Richard Rose's letter Written from the Manse of Kinnedar dated January 12, 1835
Appendix E: Jane's letter Written from the Dallas Manse dated 15 February 1836 to Sir William regarding wood stealing at Dallas
Works Cited
"Scandal and Survival is a timely and interesting contribution to the literature on the ways that concepts of race and sexuality shaped the lives of early 19th-century women. The use of recent sociological work on the experience of international adoptions adds a compelling frame to the treatment of Jane Cumming's experience." .
"- Pam Perkins, University of Manitoba" .

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Title Details

1st February 2020

356 Pages

2.286 x 1.524 cm

Imprint: University of Rochester Press