Document Detail

"Hunnish scenes" and a "Virgin birth": a 1920s case of sexual and bodily ignorance.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22830094     Owner:  HMD     Status:  In-Process    
When, in June 1921, a clairvoyant informed Christabel Russell, to her great surprise, that she was pregnant, her husband denied paternity and petitioned for divorce on grounds of adultery. The Hon. John Russell claimed that on the very few occasions that they had slept in the same bed in their two and half years of marriage, his method of birth control (which she referred to disapprovingly as "Hunnish scenes") had made pregnancy impossible. What added to the sensational nature of the case was the revelation that whilst pregnant, Christabel's hymen was unbroken – hence the claims of a "virgin birth." Two divorce trials and two appeals followed. The first trial ended inconclusively, the second trial was won for John Russell by the eminent barrister Sir Edward Marshall-Hall, but on the second appeal, in the House of Lords, it was ruled that evidence questioning the legitimacy of a child born in wedlock was inadmissible. The decree nisi was rescinded and the baby was legitimized.
Lucy Bland
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  History workshop journal : HWJ     Volume:  73     ISSN:  1363-3554     ISO Abbreviation:  Hist Workshop J     Publication Date:  2012  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-05-24     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9609179     Medline TA:  Hist Workshop J     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  118-43     Citation Subset:  Q    
Kings College, London.
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