As readers of this blog will have gathered, I enjoy a bit of historical gossip and what could possibly be more fun than stories about clerics and their alleged sexual peccadilloes? If you share this rather wayward inquisitiveness, you should really have a look at Tom Hughes new book, Clerical Errors.
Hughes is an expert in just such scandals. The stories he tells are carefully documented, often using sources that have been either inaccessible or largely untapped. Among the strengths of his book is his careful analyses of the procedural issues surrounding cases. He not only lets us in on what was done, but on what he believes was not done. It presents us with a view of Victorian legal values and practices which were, at times, “slip-shod” if not biased.
In addition, since the cases inevitably involve power relationships, Hughes’ book paints an interesting picture of both the formal and informal structures of both Victorian class and gender.
In this kind of writing, it would be easy to slip into the error of confusing fact and opinion. While Hughes offers his opinion, he is clear in presenting it as just that.
This is Hughes' third book dealing with what were cases of alleged misconduct on that part of clergy and is the first in a planned three volume series.
If there is anyone who knows about British clerical scandals, it is Tom Hughes. He has spent more than two decades building a database and writing about clerical errors. All of his books are available through Amazon and the Kindle edition of Clerical Errors is available for the very reasonable price of US$5.49.