By Eloise Moss Part 1 of this two part series appeared on Tuesday, October 3 2023. You can read it here. In part one, last week, I discussed the criminal investigation following the sexual assault of five hotel chambermaids in London in 1926. Committed by a wealthy Canadian named Mervyn Brown, these events were sheltered from international scrutiny and mislabeled… Read more »
The case of Mervyn Brown offers an important, if disturbing, precedent for understanding just how entrenched have been the practices of protecting powerful men from the consequences of misogynistic and abusive behaviour historically. Hotels have long been spaces in which women’s labour, often menial, has been confused with their sexual availability; this case demonstrates the legitimisation of sexual violence towards impoverished and vulnerable women in those spaces. Orchestrated at the highest levels of government, this cover-up provides an important lesson in the history of modern political celebrity, and acts as a register for the strength of the imperial and economic relationship between Britain and Canada during the late 1920s.