To learn more about Victorian times, i am reading three novels set in the era and I am also watching a BBC series called What the Victorians did for Us…
Keep reading for what I have learned so far….
The first novel I have read is a murder set in Victorian times: Mrs Jeffries stands corrected by Emily Brightwell. A man was stabbed on his birthday, at the opening of his own pub. Inspector Witherspoon is assigned the case and when another body is found, it is a race against time to find the killer, before he strikes again. Can the inspector and his mystery solving staff do it in time?
I loved this book, which always kept me in suspense. I would rate the book 9/10, losing the mark for unresolved ends of paragraphs.
Mrs Jeffries stands corrected taught me that in Victorian life, lots of people were homeless
and living in poverty. It also taught me that people who were poor often were sent to workhouses , where they were made to work without much pay. The rich showed off with fancy houses and clothes.
It seemed from the story that Victorian men also drank a lot of beer and were in charge of all the household money. Women wore big dresses over iron frames, but the dresses did get smaller toward the end of Queen Victoria’s reign.
I learned a lot more about the Victorians and the food they ate from the excellent show What the Victorians did for us. Did you know that Victorians often ate recycled Gloucester cheese that was coloured red using lead? Flour was coloured white with chalk. One worker in a shop reported seeing their boss melt down candles, mix the wax with brown paint, and sell the result as chocolate! An analysis of one icecream made at the time showed that it contained cotton, straw, human hair, cat hair, fleas, lice and bedbugs.
The stories about teeth were also quite grim. Rotten or damaged teeth were sometimes removed and replaced with the real teeth of other humans. And one report from the told showed that 30 children had died from too much opium, given to them to sooth teething pains.
In better news, the Victorians were responsible for great advances in technology and engineering that changed peoples lives for the better. For example, revolving doors and steel framed buildings were invented and the first London Tube/underground lines were built. The development of steam powered engines also changed life for victorian people, especially in agriculture.
Keep your eyes out for my next post. I will be reading another novel set in Victorian times and watch another few episodes of What the Victorians did for Us and report back what i have learned.