Shropshire Star

Incredible story about the controversial life of a Shropshire maid who broke taboos in Victorian Britain

A new book has been published, detailing the intimate life of a Shropshire-born Victorian diarist.

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Author, John Cullwick, has published 'Our Hannah', a book delving into the strange and interesting life of a Shifnal woman

Hannah Cullwick was born in 1833 in Shifnal. Raised in poverty, at just eight years old she entered service as a maid and during her life worked at Woodcote Hall in Sherriffhales, Ryton Rectory and Aqualate Hall in Forton.

This was until a chance meeting with writer, photographer and barrister, Arthur Munby.

After 18 years of courtship, the two married in secret in 1873, and their relationship allowed them both to explore Victorian taboos such as class, gender, race and power.

The couple kept up an appearance of servant and master through most of their relationship, with Arthur only revealing his secret marriage to his brother just a few months before his death in 1910.

The couple separated just four years into their marriage. In later life, Hannah lived on Trench Road in Hadley, before moving back to Shifnal where she is now buried.

Her diaries, which were published in 1984, to much controversy, contained scandalous revelations of a life filled with fetishisms and a detailed account of working-class Victorian women.

In 2003, a short independent film based on Cullwick's diaries, On My Knees, was made.

Author, and Hannah's first-cousin three times removed, John Cullwick, has recently published 'Our Hannah', a book delving into the strange and interesting life of this Shifnal maid.

John, originally from Wolverhampton but now residing in Rhondda Fawr, has spent 30 years researching the book.

On Saturday morning, Shifnal Local History Group welcomed the author to the Old Fire Station in Shifnal, to celebrate life of this controversial local lady and the launch of 'Our Hannah'.

Copies of the book are £20 and available to buy from the Old Fire Station in Shifnal or online from: