I love everything about the Victorian era. Well, not everything. The Thames was overflowing with filth. There weren’t any antibiotics. Tuberculosis claimed lives as did birthing complications. If disease didn’t get you, perhaps Jack the Ripper would. Basically, anything could kill you. Women couldn’t vote (or do anything much, really) . The British Empire systematically oppressed the native population in colonies. Oh, and let’s not forget about child labour.
But. The Victorian age was the beginning of the modern era. Industrialization dismantled the feudal system. The landed gentry began to lose their hegemony. Industrialization created opportunity, mass consumption and the middle class. It was a time if great invention and great change.
As the British Empire flourished, so did art and culture. Some of the world’s greatest novels were written in the Victorian era. Architecture was designed to impress. (A touch too many gargoyles, but ok.) Perhaps the most elaborate of all was social norms. The balls, the dresses, the hairstyles, how people greeted each other. Elaborate social rules that at once confound and fascinate. (You can dance with a woman at a ball, but not say hello to her if you see her on the street, unless you’ve both been formally introduced by a common acquaintance. That’s a far cry from swiping right on tinder.)
I don’t know exactly when my obsession with the Victorian era began, but it’s culminated into a carefully curated facebook group called The Victorian Life. We discuss everything Victorian – from the Bronte sisters and body snatchers, to corsets and crinolines. If you love the Victorian era too, join us.