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A True and Affecting History

From the early modern period to the nineteenth century, one of the most popular forms of inexpensive literary entertainment was the chapbook. (The phenomenon was not limited to English-speaking countries.) Encompassing everything from nursery rhymes to shocking tales, chapbooks (also known as "small books." among other things) were targeted at both adults and children. Frequently, as in the case of Gothic chapbooks, these ephemeral books provided readers with (much shortened) access to popular novels. (Other chapbooks were more wholesome and/or educational in intent.) McGill Library and Ball State University have some of the most extensive chapbook collections now online.
posted by thomas j wise on Jul 7, 2014 - 3 comments

The Evolution of London, mapped through its roadways

In seven minutes, you can see the evolution of London, as seen in its road network, from the Roman port city of Londonium through the Anglo-Saxon, Tudor, Stuart, Early Georgian and Late Georgian, Early Victorian and Late Victorian, Early 20th Century and Postwar London, set to the scale of the 600 square miles of modern London, though the original city core is a very dense square mile. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 10, 2014 - 15 comments

Une agreable surprise!

Victorian Prudes and their Bizarre Beachside Bathing Machines. If you were a beachgoer in Georgian or Victorian times, more specifically, a female beachgoer, your day at the seaside would’ve likely had all the fun sucked out of it by a little invention known as the bathing machine.
posted by Bunny Ultramod on Apr 16, 2014 - 46 comments

Cannons Not Included, Sadly

In the game Full Steam Ahead, you design steamships under the glowering supervision of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
posted by Iridic on Apr 4, 2014 - 33 comments

"Avoid The Appearance Of Evil"

Thank Goodness We Don't Have To Do That Anymore: a selection of US social customs and rituals that have mercifully passed on. Spinster Etiquette! Paying Calls! Hand Kissing! Bathing Machines! Wedding Gift Displays!
posted by The Whelk on Mar 28, 2014 - 90 comments

Hygienic and Scientific Cooking

"....many a tragic episode in family life is superinduced by the baleful influence of a tortured stomach. Mighty is the hand that holds the ballot-box, but mightier is the hand that wields to advantage the pepper-box, the salt-spoon, and the sugar-shaker." read the entirely of Maud C. Cooke's, Breakfast, Dinner and Supper; or, What To Eat and How To Prepare It (1897) online and enter a world of home remedies, large scale recipes, sound advice, leftover wizardry, squirrel stews, scientific digestion, and horrible things done to vegetables.
posted by The Whelk on Jan 17, 2014 - 12 comments

Pre suffragettes the founding mothers

Meet the Victorian women who fought back. Once, Queen Victoria was the only woman in the realm with no legal impediment because of her sex. She reigned over a society that was full of intelligent women going mad with frustration - and then they began to do something about it.
posted by adamvasco on Oct 20, 2013 - 8 comments

Don't talk about anything and don't not talk about nothing

"Avoid flattery. A delicate compliment is permissible in conversation, but flattery is broad, coarse, and to sensible people, disgusting. If you flatter your superiors, they will distrust you, thinking you have some selfish end; if you flatter ladies, they will despise you, thinking you have no other conversation." - 37 Conversation Rules for Gentlemen from 1875
posted by The Whelk on Sep 2, 2013 - 53 comments

"superior in their natural gifts on the average to the mass[es]"

"In Victorian England, getting a job was all about who you knew, [but] Charles Trevelyan, the permanent secretary to the Treasury 1840-59, was horrified by the Barnacle types in the civil service, once describing a colleague, as a "gentleman who really could neither read nor write, he was almost an idiot"."
posted by marienbad on Jul 23, 2013 - 20 comments

Rupert Everett, Really Into Dead Victorian Dreamboats

In 2008 the actor Rupert Everett hosted (seemingly from his apartment) a rather strange documentary: The Victorian Sex Explorer ( 2 3 4 5 ), an attempt to follow in the footsteps of famed Explorer, translator, and author Sir Richard Burton and convince us of Sir Burton's passion for sexual experimentation while laying in lots of bathhouses and visiting brothels. [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Jul 4, 2013 - 52 comments

The Underpants Revolution and other stories from the past...

"Whereas yesterday's Cora Pearl was eccentric, charming and a little cold-hearted, today's Victorian courtesan, La Païva, is straight-up eerie. Like, so eerie that a lot of people thought she was a vampire. My hand to Baby Jesus, people actually believed she was a supernatural being. " Bizarre Victoria shares (what else) bizarre, scandalous, and noteworthy stories form the Victorian era (and more). What do you serve at a country club for fat men? Devil's footprints! Lola Montez: servant whipper, de facto ruler of Bavaria. Empress Sissi and her No Good Very Bad Life. Aristocratic marriage at gunpoint. Public pubic hair trimming. Specialties of the Victorian Brothel. Curing hiccups by setting your shirt on fire. Gilded Age Arranged Marriages.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 3, 2013 - 8 comments

Pimp My Walk

"Canes were the 22-inch rims of 19th century cruising culture." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 8, 2013 - 59 comments

Jadu Ghar: The house of magic in the heart of Calcutta

Established in 1814 by founding curator, the Danish botanist Nathanial Wallich at the premises of The Asiatic Society, the Indian Museum of Calcutta* is the oldest museum in Asia and the 9th oldest in the world. Referred to as a "museum of museums", considered outdated and obsolete, its Victorian Era majesty dimmed by modernization, the grande dame of Indian history still manages evoke paeans to its otherworldly wonders:
With collections to rival the Smithsonian and the British Museums, it isn't just a storehouse of countless artifacts from the world over. The building seems to be a tiny world, an island in the midst of a busy street. The tall gates with their spikes are the doorways to different recorded ages. All those entering through the high steps are travelers in a time machine. But this is not all that Kolkata's Jadughar or "House of Magic" has to offer. Its jadu lies in the magic with which it houses portions of man's past. The high ceilings seem to stretch to infinity. Amid the silence there is vibrant life. Showcasing essential elements of different cultures, the dark, often dank, interiors show up the objects more sharply. Gradually the eyes grow used to the absence of light; the smell seems natural. It is this ambience that gently draws you in and makes the textbook history we are used to, a tangible living reality.
It remains a wonderful time-warp with plenty of mangy-looking stuffed animals, fish and birds, together with fossils so beloved of Victorian collectors, as well as fascinating Indian friezes, bas-reliefs and stone carvings and art.
posted by infini on Jun 7, 2013 - 5 comments

Is that in the rules?

Each event has a different theme, revolving around a past era. Previously, Steam Garden did a Meiji-themed party — a fascinating time when Japan was opening its doors to the West, and fusing Victorian fashion with traditional kimonos and obis. This time, the code word was Celtic Fantasy. Luke describes it as “a blend of industry, fantasy, and epic adventure set to a soundtrack of exciting tribal and Celtic music.” - Japanese Steampunk, complete with bagpipes, medieval food, fire dancers and wood elves.
posted by Artw on May 18, 2013 - 7 comments

"I want a bustle so big I eat my Christmas goose on it!"

The Roundabout Theatre Company in New York revived the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood (also known as just Drood) in 2012. The costumes got them so excited, that they couldn't resist rapping about the Victorian bustles (NSFW) (wiki, and previously). Includes Chita Rivera briefly krumping (previously).
posted by knile on May 5, 2013 - 5 comments

Heads above the rest? No. Below.

We all know that people messed around with photos long before there was Photoshop. But you might not have realized how crazy the Victorians were about headless portraits. They literally lost their heads over this trend. Check it out.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 12, 2013 - 25 comments

The Darwin-Hooker Letters

The Cambridge University Library houses the world's largest collection of Charles Darwin's letters: more than 9,000 of the 15,000 letters he is known to have written and received in his lifetime. They've been posting them online since 2007 (previously on MeFi), in the Darwin Correspondence Project, where we can now read and search the full texts of more than 7,500 letters, and find information on 7,500 more -- all for free. This weekend, they added nearly all of the Darwin-Hooker letters: Over 1400 pieces of correspondence between Darwin and his closest friend, botanist Joseph Hooker. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 31, 2013 - 9 comments

Everybody Puts Baby In The Corner

" Initially it was thought to be something to house firewood, though it didn’t seem capable of holding much, and the slat that sits perpendicular to the box on the inside wall made little sense. It took observers a while to realize that this contraption was a device for holding children—a “baby tender.”" (via)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 5, 2013 - 56 comments

'R is for Rhonda consumed by a fire'

Edward Gorey's gothic tales from the vault: ' Edward Gorey's arch eccentrics are on display in two reissues and a never-before-published story.' [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 1, 2012 - 14 comments

" the flawed, bonkers and brilliant" Pre-Raphaelites

A new exhibit on the sometimes maligned, but often adored, Pre-Raphaelite painters is at the Tate Britain. "You get the impression, in this exhibition, that the Pre-Raphaelites had a good time because they were the only Victorian men who recognised women as sexual beings" previously
posted by Isadorady on Sep 11, 2012 - 41 comments

Victorian values

Victorian slang - a guide to sexual Victorian terms [NSFW]
posted by Artw on Aug 20, 2012 - 80 comments

The thing with feathers

America's other Audubon.
posted by latkes on Jun 28, 2012 - 17 comments

"If you believe in a principle, never damage it with a poor impression. You must go all the way." Charles Parsons

Unusual marketing technique: an inventor offered a demonstration of his custom-built speedboat design by speeding past security and crashing the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. [more inside]
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow on Jun 4, 2012 - 21 comments

"Characters with Unusual Pets and their Unusual Circumstances"

"The Secret Pet Society" is an fantastical series of paintings with descriptions by artist Travis Louie which features Victorian-era styled people posing alongside their mythical creatures. [more inside]
posted by quin on Apr 24, 2012 - 11 comments

Where cabs and omnibuses are ruthlessly driven against them

In the frantic pace of modern life, it is often easy to forget what life was once like for those who built the world we now live in. More from Bishopsgate library here and the Institute itself is worth a poke around
posted by mattoxic on Apr 3, 2012 - 34 comments

Were single mothers better off in the 19th Century?

"As far back as the 1800s, single mothers were receiving benefits. At that time, they would be paid up front and in cash, but were they better off than today?" [via] [Spoiler Inside] [more inside]
posted by marienbad on Mar 4, 2012 - 23 comments

The Victorian Kitchen Garden & a metric butt-ton of historical reconstruction series

The Victorian Kitchen Garden is a 13-part TV series that aired in 1987 on BBC2. It follows the month-by-month restoration of the Victorian walled kitchen garden at the Chilton Foliat estate in Wiltshire, England. Almost all the episodes are available to watch online. (via hark, a vagrant) It had three sequels - The Victorian Kitchen, The Victorian Flower Garden, and The Wartime Kitchen and Garden - and inspired more recent historical reconstruction programs: Tales From the Green Valley, A Tudor Feast at Christmas, Victorian Farm, Victorian Farm Christmas, Victorian Pharmacy, and Edwardian Farm. (Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm previously.) [more inside]
posted by flex on Feb 26, 2012 - 29 comments

experimental archeology / history at its best

Victorian Farm | Edwardian Farm -- 18 hours of BBC experimental archeology/historical documentaries, online. Archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman spend two years living the life of rural country farmers.
posted by crunchland on Jan 15, 2012 - 33 comments

British History, Sung at Christmas

The Truth about Christmas Carols -- Howard Goodall uncovers the surprising and often secret history of the Christmas carol in this hour-long BBC documentary.
posted by crunchland on Dec 25, 2011 - 9 comments

John Ruskin's Elements of Drawing

The Elements of Drawing: John Ruskin's Teaching Collection at Oxford digitizes the drawings, engravings, and paintings that John Ruskin collected (and created) for use in teaching drawing. The objects can be viewed separately or in their teaching order and context, with Ruskin's own catalog annotations. The site also suggests how modern art students can put the collection to use, with instructional video and a variety of drawing exercises. Ruskin also assembled another fine art collection for working-class viewers in Sheffield; you can see that collection at the Museum of Sheffield, which also helps sponsor a digital reconstruction of the original museum building, the St. George's Museum.
posted by thomas j wise on Nov 14, 2011 - 5 comments

VICTORIAN SEX MYTHBUSTERS

A Few Popular Misconceptions And Victorians And Sex
posted by The Whelk on Oct 18, 2011 - 28 comments

Smile!

Portraits of married couples from the Victorian era. [more inside]
posted by gman on Aug 29, 2011 - 77 comments

Art that grows on you

Melanie Bilenker documents quiet moments in a unique way. Precious metals, ebony and epoxy resin are the canvas, and human hair is the material used to delicately capture life's simpler things. [more inside]
posted by kinnakeet on Aug 4, 2011 - 6 comments

How to Undress a Victorian Lady in Your Next Historical Romance

Deanne Gist helps romance novel authors learn the mechanics of Victorian era women's underwear.
posted by reenum on Jul 19, 2011 - 95 comments

Steampunk Philly

BRUCE ROSENBAUM and his wife, Melanie, cook their food on what looks like a cast-iron Victorian stove. But the stove, like many items in the Rosenbaums' kitchen, has been gutted and repurposed. There's a modern appliance inside that antique shell, a theme that repeats itself from the fridge to their water heater. "We created this romantic Victorian feel to it," Bruce Rosenbaum said. "But everything works." The Massachusetts couple have steampunked their kitchen. [more inside]
posted by fixedgear on Feb 28, 2011 - 113 comments

Smiling Victorians

Smiling Victorians is a collection of photos of smiling Victorian (and Edwardian!) people. And one photo of the Victorianest smile of all!
posted by ocherdraco on Dec 28, 2010 - 21 comments

Slaving Over a Hot Oven All Day

Chris Kimball prepares a 12-course meal from Fannie Farmer's 1896 cookbook. Using only a coal stove and other authentic Victorian-era kitchen staples, the chef, who lives in Fannie Farmer's former home, recreated a classic holiday Victorian meal from her iconic 1896 cookbook.

The twelve courses included: "rissoles (filled and fried puff pastry), mock turtle soup with fried brain balls, lobster à l’Américaine, roast goose with chestnut stuffing and jus, wood-grilled salmon, roast saddle of venison, Canton punch, three molded Victorian jellies and a spectacular French-inspired Mandarin cake."

Chris Kimball is the creator of public television's America's Test Kitchen) and Cook's Illustrated. Naturally, he chronicled the experience in a book, aptly titled, Fannie's Last Supper. In it, he offers some moden adaptations of Fannie Farmer's recipes. A film depicting the difficulties of authentically re-creating the meal airs this Fall.
posted by misha on Oct 6, 2010 - 45 comments

yellowback novels

Emory University has made more than 1,200 yellowback novels available as PDF downloads. Yellowbacks were inexpensive books marketed largely to railway travelers in 19th century Britain.
posted by maurice on Sep 16, 2010 - 30 comments

[Warning—painted Victorian bosom below]

On Tor.com, Mefi'sown Patrick Garcon (smoke) is writing lively essays on Victorian fantasy illustration, from the Pre-Raphaelites to Orientalism. [via mefi projects]
posted by The Whelk on Sep 3, 2010 - 12 comments

The Art of the Flourish

Platt Rogers Spencer was born in 1800 near the Hudson River. His family was too poor to afford paper so Spencer practiced on whatever was handy – leaves, bark, snow and sand – everything was a canvas for handwriting. [more inside]
posted by Sara C. on Jul 20, 2010 - 7 comments

Plato's Protagoras, a translation

An attempt at a collaborative translation of Plato’s Protagoras. Every day for a few months, Dhananjay Jagannathan will post roughly a page of the dialogue, side by side in Greek, in his own translation, and in Jowett’s classic 1871 translation. He's invited readers to comment and offer suggestions to improve the translation. Jagannathan's goal is to communicate Plato in English the way readers of his would have interpreted his Greek.
posted by unliteral on Jun 30, 2010 - 11 comments

William Morris and the Kelmscott Press

The multi-talented William Morris' most famous achievement was the Kelmscott Press, which played a leading role in establishing the private press movement. Although the fifty-three books issued by the Press ranged from Shakespeare's poems to Morris' own work, one book remains prized above all others: the Kelmscott Chaucer. Published in 1896, and featuring illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones, the Kelmscott Chaucer was the most exquisite work of a press known for exquisite work. (Previous Morris.)
posted by thomas j wise on Jun 5, 2010 - 9 comments

The Anachronism

The Anachronism "On a sun dappled summer day a science expedition propels two children toward an enigmatic encounter at the edge of their known world. Arriving on an isolated beach, they stumble upon the shipwreck of a robotic squid submarine." A short film, project site, via.
posted by dhruva on Apr 23, 2010 - 17 comments

Bully rocks:- impudent villians kept to preserve order in houses of ill fame

The Victorian Dictionary: A motley collection of primary source documents and reference materials about Victorian London by historical thriller author Lee Jackson. Read the 1841 Census, browse peroid advertisements, zoom in on the 1881 Pocket Guide to London or just learn some dirty words.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 19, 2010 - 17 comments

Lace schools

Lacemaking in 19th-century Britain relied heavily upon child labour. Large numbers of children attended 'lace schools' from an early age, working long hours in miserable conditions. An 1860s parliamentary report on child labour describes their world. [more inside]
posted by Catseye on Apr 17, 2010 - 15 comments

"The so-called Victorian conception of women's sexuality was more that of an ideology seeking to be established than the prevalent view or practice of even middle-class women."

"Some enjoyed sex but worried that they shouldn't. One slept apart from her husband 'to avoid temptation of too frequent intercourse.' " Standford Magazine on the accidental discovery of an unpublished sex survey of American women made 55 years before Kinsey . (via)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 31, 2010 - 50 comments

Adolfo Farsari

In the 1880s at a time when most Europeans were denied access to the Japanese interior an Italian photographer managed to capture many images of Old Japan. These were then beautifully and realistically hand painted and serve as a remarkable record of a world long since disappeared. Victorian-era photos of Japan.
posted by shakespeherian on Feb 22, 2010 - 28 comments

A Guide To Rivers, Plains, Planets, Stars

Peacay of BibliOdyessey highlights some stunning examples of Victorian Infographics from the Rumsey Map Collection(previously). (Direct Flickr link)
posted by The Whelk on Dec 22, 2009 - 21 comments

Bucket list made easy!

Want to see Trajan's Column, Michelangelo’s David (with or without fig leaf), and Notre Dame all in one room? (Well, two rooms.) The Victoria and Albert’s “Cast Courts” are an amazing example of Victorian plaster casting, allowing those who couldn't afford the Grand Tour a chance to see great works of art and architecture.
posted by JoanArkham on Oct 26, 2009 - 22 comments

*Slap!* Sir, I demand satisfaction

Few things in history are as compelling as the duel. Refined and barbaric at the same time, this practice has had a checkered history. The rules of dueling were codified by the Irish in 1777 in the Code Duello (summarized here), which was codified at Clonmel Summer Assizes in 1777. As evidenced by these documents, dueling was in practice prior to the Irish rules being drafted. The procedure and philosophy behind duels is illustrated in this article. Dueling gained some traction in America in the 19th century, culminating in the famous Burr-Hamilton affair. There are many more resources to find out more here. For a list of famous duels, you can check out this list. Lest you think men were the only ones dueling, here are a few short anecdotes of women dueling. Reportedly, dueling is still legal in Paraguay, as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
posted by reenum on Sep 15, 2009 - 17 comments

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