Well ... I think they're fun, anyway.  Beta-readers for my Past Lives Trilogy will recognize some of these.


Pollution:  Most homes burned coal in their fireplaces, not wood.  And in the grander houses, virtually every room had a fireplace.  This is why London fog was usually yellow. And sometimes it was so thick, a lady could arrive home after a day of shopping to find her dress "grayed" by a fine layer of coal dust.  Therefore the average man wore black, day in and day out.  Inside even the finest homes, the wallpaper had to be washed at least once a year (after a long winter of burning fires daily, spring cleaning was essential).  The ceiling plaster was frequently black.


 

Bathrooms: By the 1870s, most fine houses had indoor toilets, or "water closets."  Because the most common version was designed by a man named Thomas J. Crapper, toilets and what went in them got a new name.  Tub baths, however, were still a luxury.  By the time the maid schlepped enough hot water upstairs to fill the tub, it was already going cold, and virtually everyone believed exposure to cold could make you sick, if not literally kill you.  So sponge-bathing and perfume often ruled the day.

 
Hair: Blonde was considered the ideal color; lady's magazines of the time declared blondes were the only true beauties.  Red hair was the worst.  As someone famously said, referring to a lady as "red-haired" was tantamount to social assassination.  A woman with short hair was shocking; a man with long hair, eccentric.  By mid-century, going clean-shaven was out of style, so every man wore a beard, or at least "side-whiskers."  (Think Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.)


Vermin: Most people won't be surprised to hear rats were a big problem in middle and lower class homes.  But they were just as common in upper class houses.  Sometimes when nursemaids heard the baby crying, they found it bleeding from fresh rat bites. 



Coming Out: The phrase meant something different back then.  Girls too young for courtship were referred to as "in the schoolroom"; to "come out to society" meant to enter the marriage market.  Often these girls were presented to the Queen at St. James -- the Victorian equivalent of a Senior Prom spotlight dance.  The girls had to make the most of their first season.  After two or three "failed seasons" -- no engagement -- they could be considered an old maid.  By the mid-Victorian era, there were approximately 10 single women for every single man (statistics vary, but it was definitely lopsided due to disease, crime, and especially war) so the risk of being left an old maid was quite real. 



Professional Mourners: The upper classes wanted everything to look just so.  Therefore, a good undertaker offered premium services, including the rental of attractive blonde "mutes" whose only function was to stand prominently by the graveside looking inconsolable.  After the service, the female mourners could purchase "tear bottles" to store their tears in and keep as a reminder of the deceased.



More facts to come!

Visit Stephanie's Blog

 


Views: 2625

Tags: abbott, books, ebooks, fearful, fiction, punk, steam, stephanie, symmetry, victorian

Comment by Stephanie Abbott on April 9, 2011 at 1:48pm
Wow, love the PICTURES!  I need to get myself some awesome clip art like that!!!  More later, and thanks.
Comment by Lia Keyes on April 9, 2011 at 2:28pm
Pictures make a blog post come to life, there's no doubt, but the article itself is fascinating! Thank you for the terrific contribution and I hope you'll keep them coming! :)

Comment

You need to be a member of S.W.A.G to add comments!

Join S.W.A.G

SWAG Support Fund

Visit us on:

TWITTER                          TUMBLR

FACEBOOK                      WORDPRESS

GOOGLE+                        GOODREADS

Latest Activity

Tim Campbell and Aidana WillowRaven are now friends
yesterday
Leslie Orton's photo was featured
Tuesday
Lia Keyes posted a photo
Tuesday
Leslie Orton posted an album

The Aether Chronicle Archives

Enclosed are all past editions of the online Steampunk newspaper The Aether Chronicle.
Tuesday
Leslie Orton posted photos
Tuesday
Nick Valentino posted a status
"New Blog Post! Radio Interview and Norwescon this weekend…"
Tuesday
Jack Tyler posted a blog post

Perseverance is a Highly Underrated Virtue

This is one of my favorite expressions. To the best of my knowledge, I originated it (though I may have heard it in a movie at some point), but I'm sure something close to it was dear to the heart of that famous tortoise that won the race with the hare. It carried me through my recent collapse, coma, and rehabilitation when the doctors were telling my family that they should prepare for the end, and it has carried me through the past ten weeks when all I had to do with my time was write, and I…See More
Tuesday
Wendy L. Callahan replied to Tim Wellman's discussion Tim Wellman Wuz Here
"A few of us are active, though not many, it seems. So hello!  Welcome to the site and good luck with your writing!"
Tuesday

MEMBERS' BOOK COVERS

Small Press, Indie & Anthology Covers


Click here for SWAG badges for websites

Badge

Loading…

© 2014   Created by Lia Keyes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service