Mudlark will publish legal historian Kate Morgan’s second book, The Walnut Tree – Women, Violence and the Law: A Hidden History.

The Bookseller writes..

Joel Simons, publishing director, negotiated the deal for UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, with Euan Thorneycroft at A M Heath. The Walnut Tree will be published on 29th February 2024 in hardback, audiobook and e-book, ahead of International Women’s Day 2024 (8th March).

The book follows publication of Morgan’s debut Murder: The Biographypublished by Mudlark in 2021.

Mudlark described The Walnut Tree as “a vivid work of historical non-fiction [which] explores the legal campaigns, test cases and individual injustices of the Victorian and Edwardian eras which fundamentally re-shaped the status of women under British law”.

The publisher added: “These are seen through the untold stories of women whose cases became cornerstones of our modern legal system but whose identities were all but lost to history.

“Kate details the uniquely abusive marriage which culminated in the dramatic story of the ‘Clitheroe wife abduction’; of the domestic tragedies which changed the law on domestic violence; the controversies surrounding the Contagious Diseases Act and the women who campaigned to abolish it; and the real courtroom stories behind notorious murder cases such as the ‘Camden Town Murder’.”

Exploring the 19th and early 20th-century legal history that influenced the modern-day stances on issues such as domestic abuse, sexual violence and divorce, The Walnut Tree “lifts the lid on the shocking history of women under British law and what it means for women today,” Mudlark said.

Morgan commented: “Legal history often has a habit of repeating itself; there are many echoes of our contemporary concerns around violence against women and the justice system’s response to it.

“I wanted to explore the history behind some of the issues we’re facing today, through the development of the law and the personal stories of the women involved in these legal landmarks.”

Simons said: “This is an essential book by one of the country’s most talented legal historians and storytellers. A compelling, powerful and vital work of historical non-fiction, The Walnut Tree is a timely account of misogyny and the law, with a fierce sense of justice at its core. We’re proud to be publishing it on Mudlark next spring.”