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Night RaidersBurglary and the Making of Modern Urban Life in London, 1860-1968$
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Eloise Moss

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198840381

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198840381.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 August 2019

Marvellous Mrs Raffles?

Marvellous Mrs Raffles?

The Implausible Woman Burglar

Chapter:
(p.66) 3 Marvellous Mrs Raffles?
Source:
Night Raiders
Author(s):

Eloise Moss

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198840381.003.0003

Women burglars were supposedly rare throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. When caught in the act, they were greeted with shock and ridicule, both their triumphs and failures as thieves dismissed as ‘amateurish’ in comparison with those of male burglars. The final chapter of this section unpacks the relationship between gender, crime, and the home. Burglary had always been perpetrated by both sexes, albeit in greater numbers by men—at least, of those burglars who were caught. For a woman to raid someone’s home during a period when the ideology of women’s roles was still intimately entwined with domesticity and family life was seen as a ‘betrayal’ of their ‘nature’. These ‘forays’ into burglary by women consequently met with denial; as ‘freaks’ among their sex they were usually portrayed as spinsters or somehow ‘wronged’ romantically. Burglary was the ultimate symbol of their want of love and the stability of a family. This chapter traces how popular denial of the female burglar responded to fears about women’s greater political and social agency following the rise of the suffragette movement, as well as later symbols of female independence such as the Edwardian ‘new’ woman and the interwar ‘flapper’.

Keywords:   female criminal, women’s movement, domesticity, gender relations, sexuality, judicial system

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