VictorianSerialNovels.org is a project by Dr. Robyn Warhol and her student Colleen Morrissey that helps you read Victorian novels in serial, as they would have been experienced by readers at the time. The site currently covers three time periods: 1846 - 1848, 1859-1861, and 1864-1866. Texts are sourced from project Gutenberg and Librivox (when available).
Songs of the Victorians is a website about four songs composed in Victorian England. The history behind them reveals forgotten details of the era: Juanita was composed by Caroline Norton, a pioneering feminist; The Lost Chord was a poem by Adelaide Anne Procter first published in a feminist journal, then set to music by (yes that) Arthur Sullivan; a part of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem Maud, which employs the cryptographical language of flowers, is set to music by Michael William Balfe and Sir Arthur Somervell, the former allowing performers to disguise or emphasize the disturbed emotions of the original, the latter makes the mental distress plain. The website was designed by digital humanities blogger and professor Joanna Swafford as a prototype for Augmented Notes, a system for highlighting sheet music visually while playing a sound file.
Cat Funerals in the Victorian Era: "During the early 19th century, it was not uncommon for the mortal remains of a beloved pet cat to be buried in the family garden. By the Victorian era, however, the formality of cat funerals had increased substantially. Bereaved pet owners commissioned undertakers to build elaborate cat caskets. Clergymen performed cat burial services. And stone masons chiseled cat names on cat headstones." Ends with a lovely elegy for Peter, aged 12, by poet Clinton Scollard. [more inside]
Adrift in a sea of digital apps for every imaginable function, we often feel our needs are met better today than in any previous era. But consider the chatelaine, a device popularized in the 18th century that attached to the waist of a woman’s dress, bearing tiny useful accessories, from notebooks to knives.--Chatelaines: The Killer Mobile Device for Victorian Women [more inside]
The “arsenic” ball gown sits on a headless dressmaker’s form in the basement archives of Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum as senior curator Elizabeth Semmelhack, wearing cotton conservators’ gloves, expounds upon its vintage (late 1860s), its provenance (Australia), its exquisite construction—and, most relevantly, its ability to kill.[more inside]
Sixteen-year-old Agnes Quill has inherited an ancient family curse, brought about by the loss of her parents. Several of our key scholars have accounted for and confirmed that she has the ability to see and communicate with spirits trapped between worlds. In several confidential journal entries, Agnes describes the events of her parents’ funeral, where the ghost of her Grandfather, Ages Quill, visited her. It was then that he explained the nature of specters and how he used his connections with them to great advantage throughout his career. Ms. Quill's stories are written by Astronaut Academy creator Dave Roman, and illustrated by a growing collection of artists. (via io9)
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).
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite PABLO FANQUE'S CIRCUS ROYAL TOWN-MEADOWS, ROCHDALE Grandest Night of the Season! AND POSITIVELY THE LAST NIGHT BUT THREE! BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR.KITE, (LATE OF WELLS'S CIRCUS) AND MR. J. HENDERSON, THE CELEBRATED SOMERSET THROWER! WIRE DANCER, VAULTER, RIDER, etc. On TUESDAY Evening, February 14, 1843. [more inside]
The 100,000-item Victorian curio collection other museums refused to take. 'The “merman”, a chimera made from bits of fish, fowl and monkey, is identified as “possibly Dutch or Japanese, possibly a Javanese ritual figure, possibly 1801-1900”. A paper label classifies it under veterinary medicine.'
As a belated tribute (of sorts) to Victoria Day, may you find interest in a variety of Victorina era literature, short and long. In the short category, there is Chit-Chat of Humor, Wit, and Anecdote (Edited by Pierce Pungent; New York: Stringer & Townsend (1857), who has written quite a bit of such work) [via mefi projects], and Conundrums New and Old (Collected by John Ray Frederick; J. Drake & Company Publishers Chicago, 1902) [via mefi projects] This publishing house also published The Art of Characturing, copyright 1941. If you prefer your antiquated humor with a twist, take a gander at bizarro version of Conundrums New and Old [via mefi projects]. In the category of longer works, behold the The Lost Novels of Victorian New Zealand [via an older mefi projects]. [more inside]
The Victorian Web is your one-stop resource for England in the Victorian era (1837-1901). The site is much too extensive to give but a flavor. It is divided into 20 categories, including Technology, Gender Matters, Economic Contexts, Authors, Political History, Theater and Popular Entertainment, Science and Genre and Technique. Here are a few examples of the articles inside: Inventions in Alice in Wonderland, The Role of the Victorian Army, Earth Yenneps: Victorian Back Slang (and a glossary of same), Algernon Charles Swinburne and the Philosophy of Androgyny, Hermaphrodeity, and Victorian Sexual Mores, Evolution, progress and natural laws and, of course, Queen Victoria.
Louis Wain became one of the most famous British illustrators of the late Victorian and Edwardian era after trying to cheer up his wife Emily by drawing portraits of their pet cat, Peter. In addition to publishing a popular children's book about kittens, he was a founder of the U.K's National Cat Club who was instrumental in promoting the Cat Fancy movement, which encouraged Britons of all classes to view cats as lovable pets instead of household pests. Unfortunately, after Wain's wife Emily died of breast cancer, Wain gradually went mad due to psychosis and late onset schizophrenia, ending up in London's notorious Bethlehem Hospital (the etymological origin for the word bedlam). While at Bedlam, Wain continued to draw, but his cat portraits transformed into pure geometric abstraction and psychedelic fractals, but some see harbingers of madness in cryptically titled works, such as Early Indian Irish and The Fire of the Mind Agitates the Atmosphere. For more insight on Wain, check out this 1896 interview and this short film dramatizing the progression of Wain's schizophrenia through his art.