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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

The Heiress vs the Establishment

Mrs. Campbell’s Campaign for Legal Justice

In 1922, Elizabeth Bethune Campbell, a Toronto-born socialite, unearthed what she initially thought was an unsigned copy of her mother’s will, designating her as the primary beneficiary of the estate. The discovery snowballed into a fourteen-year-battle with the Ontario legal establishment, as Mrs. Campbell attempted to prove that her uncle, a prominent member of Ontario’s legal circle, had stolen funds from her mother’s estate. In 1930, she argued her case before the Law Lords of the Privy Council in London. A non-lawyer and Canadian, with no formal education or legal training, Campbell was the first woman to ever appear before them. She won.

Reprinted here in its entirety, Campbell’s self-published account of her campaign, Where Angels Fear to Tread, is an eloquent first-person view of intrigue and overlapping spheres of influence in the early-twentieth-century legal system. Constance Backhouse and Nancy Backhouse provide extensive commentary and annotations to lluminate the context and pick up the narrative where Campbell’s book leaves off. Vibrantly written, this is an enthralling read. Not only a fascinating social and legal history, it’s also a very good story.

344 pages

Law and Society

Table of Contents



Preface / The Hon. Sydney M. Harris


Cast of Characters


Where Angels Fear to Tread


Book One, The Lost Will

Book Two, The Plundered Estate

Book Three, Counsel Lay Down Their Brief

Book Four, My Struggle for England

Book Five, Downing Street: The Privy Council Epilogue

Appendix: Sequence of Legal Proceedings



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