'You know I am all on fire': writing the adulterous affair in England, c.1740–1830

Sally Holloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses rare surviving adulterous love letters alongside published epistles and trial reports to reveal the practical and emotional importance of letter-writing in conducting an affair in England c.1740–1830. While attitudes to adultery have received widespread scholarly attention, illicit letters remain largely overlooked. The article is the first to outline distinguishing features of adulterous letters, and the language of infidelity. It distinguishes missives from courtship letters as a secretive genre carefully shielded by writers. By scrutinizing the letters which sustained affairs, the article rediscovers the happiness, jealousy and desire of illicit love in the words of lovers themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-339
Number of pages23
JournalHistorical Research
Issue number244
Early online date19 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Cite this