Beauman, who admits to a strange fascination with the ads despite being happily married, ended up quite lonely herself during the research because finding the actual people connected with them was virtually impossible.
She says: ‘As with anything unconventional, there’s always going to be a sense of shame, which is why it’s so difficult to track down couples who met in this way because their story doesn’t get passed down through the generations.’ This whiff of shame has followed personal ads from their inception to the present day. However, the advent of photography meant by the end of the 19th century, appearance was king.
In 1827 Corder killed lover Maria Marten and escaped to London, where he married a new wife.
He’d found her after placing an ad in The Times, drawing more than 100 responses. Whether so much choice makes us happier in the long run, though, is unclear.