Posts Tagged ‘19th century’

Two stories written by women that might illustrate the position of women in the Victorian marriage a little:
The first one is Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (Read it here online). “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a 6,000-word short story by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in 1891 in New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, and illustrates attitudes in the 19th century toward women’s physical and mental health, and their (in)ability to make their own life choices.

The second story is Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” It was originally published in the December 6, 1894 issue of Vogue magazine under its original title, “The Dream of an Hour”. It describes a woman’s reaction to the news of her husband’s sudden death and to the subsequent news that he is, in fact, alive. The story exemplifies Chopin’s beliefs regarding women’s roles in marriage and feminine identity. You can read it online here

Despite what it might seem like, I found both these stories very interesting and enjoyable to read!

And while we’re on the subject of female writers, check out this very interesting post about Lady Murasaki of Japan!


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Vampire literature is my favourite kind of literature! It doesn’t require a lot of introduction so I’ll get right on with the links.

This site is absolutely great, it has various vampire stories online. My all-time favourite is Carmilla, which is a little haunting but not too scary at all. It’s also not that long. You can also read Bram Stoker’s Dracula on this site, and read up on real vampires!.

This book seems very interesting. I haven’t read it so I don’t know if it’s as great as it seems, but it looks good.

If all this vampire literature made you scared, here is your solution. An Vampire hunting kit!
vampire hunting kit
You can even choose a regional variety if you want something more special. These kits were actually sold up to at least 1851!

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Communication was a bussiness one should go about very carefully in the Victorian Era, something you might be aware of it you played the Victorian etiquette game I linked you to earlier. Here are some more ways to let people know what you mean without offending them, if you find yourself all of a sudden in the nineteenth century.

Communicating with flowers: Did you know you shouldn’t give your love a yellow rose? It might be seen as a sign of jealousy. The language of flowers is very delicate, because you want to pick the absolute right flower to convey your message. Here is a Livejournal group that can tell you more.

Want to tell your beaux to not flirt with that woman, without letting everyone know? It’s as easy as fanning yourself with your left hand. I think it’s a pretty hard language to learn, but who knows, it might be worth it: The language of the fan.

Calling cards are both communication, and not really communication. Leaving a calling card will show your politeness and that you’re aware of the social mores, without having to actually talk to anyone. Perfect, I’d say. There’s quite some etiquette surrounding calling cards, you can find out more here and here.
victorian calling card
Don’t forget, if someone leaves you a calling card, you are obliged to go over and return the favour, or you might find yourself to be the subject of quite some gossip!

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“Once upon a time in Denmark there lived the son of a shoecobbler, who had an enormous nose and very large feet. His father had died, his mom was a drunk, his grandfather was insane and his aunt ran a brothel. When the boy turned fourteen, he left home to travel the world and become famous. Half of his live he spend traveling. He sat at the table of kings and princess, drank with artists and scientists, but he didn’t have any real friends. The only thing that remained of his infatuations was a broken heart, and apart from that he also suffered from insomnia, headaches, constipation, haemorrhoids, terrible tooth-aches, and all kinds of anxieties and chronic feelings of insecurity. He failed as balletdancer, singer, theatre-, and fiction writer. He lived long and unhappily, but wrote 156 fairytales, which makes him immortal” 1)

Well, that’s a version of the life story of Hans Christian Andersen. Here is the normal biography if you’re interested, and you can read all of his fairytales here.

Fellow blogger Mica wrote about his amazing papercuttings, which I think is very interesting indeed!

1) Bregje Boonstra

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From around the 1840s on, American architecture pattern books (books you could buy and build your house with the directions in it) included a little room that was called a “bath-room.” This mostly meant the rooms were destined to once have fixed plumbing. In most rural areas however, it took wel into the 1920s before the habit of bathing once a week in a tub in the kitchen, was over.

Especially after the Civil War, sanitation became a popular subject and the profession of sanitary engineer emerged. The earth-closet was developed in Britain, which was like a soil-composting system, and was at first thought healthier than water closets.
Colonel George E. Waring was a sanitary engineer and helped make the water closet system become popular in the US.

In London after 1860 a war against dirt was waged:
• the rising stench of the Thames prompted governments to develop new sewage systems to divert sewage away from the Thames, which became established in 1870, and thus allowed an increase in water supply to be feasible as water needs to be transported away as sewage. The benefits on the death rate were immediate: death rate per 1,000 dropping from 24 in 1870 to 19 by 1890’s.
• The rise of modern nursing in 1860’s using Nightingale’s creed of fresh air, soap & water, and light to remove dirt & “putrid exhalations”, with which she had reduced the death rate of hospitalised soldiers in the Crimean War from 42% to 2.2% in 4 months!
• From 1880, the war against dirt was further reinforced by the discovery of the germ theory which can be said to be the start of the new scientific era of medicine: Pasteur who had found that organisms caused putrefaction & silk-worm disease in the 1860’s, but pasteurisation of milk did not start until 1900 & saved incalculable infant lives.
• Lister develops antisepsis & then in 1887, aseptic technique for surgery resulting in the virtual disappearance of pyaemia, hospital gangrene & erysipelas from the surgical ward, allowing new surgical techniques to be developed without such a devastating infection rate. The practise of dressing wounds with cobwebs & cow dung were ceased & the need for cleanliness as a health issue rather than a class issue was reinforced.
• The discovery of the causal organisms of many diseases (mainly by Koch & colleagues 1876-1905): anthrax (1976), wound sepsis (1878), typhoid (1880), TB (1882), cholera (1883), diphtheria (1883), malta fever (1887), tetanus (1889), plague (1894), dysentery (1898), syphilis (1905).
• The discovery of antitoxins by von Behring, in the 1890’s, to treat tetanus & diphtheria

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Inspired by this wonderful blog, in which Harry McFry investigates the case of a missing family, I wanted to post about 19th century detectives. It proved to be difficult!

One of the most famous and biggest detective agencies is Pinkertons, or Pinkerton National Detective Agency (but they were also a private guard, with police-like duties,) founded in the 1850s. It is, however, utterly boring because this agency mostly dealt with preventing strikes, and not with investigating murders or missing families. Pinkerton agents were also hired to track western outlaws like Jesse James, the Reno brothers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Jesse James, who will get his own post later on.

So the actual detectives do not seem very interesting. Let’s move on to detective fiction! It is generally assumed detective fiction started with Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, which featured the first fictional detective ever: C. Auguste Dupin. Of course the very famous Sherlock Holmes is also a 19th century product, the first publication was in 1887.
Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House” also features a detective subplot, where inspector Bucket investigates the killing of a lawyer.

 I really wanted to include Agatha Christie because her work is absolutely great, but it’s the wrong century. If there is any more Victorian detective literature, let us know through the comments!

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This post is the second part of Byron sources, part one is located here

The other day I attended a theatre show, where the tv program where a dateable girl has to pick one of three bachelors was played. The girl was Richardson’s Pamela, and her choice of men were Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Oscar Wilde (he left early because he was gay.) In the end, Pamela was dragged off stage by Lord Byron, who cackled.

BBC’s Byron
The BBC serie about Byron was by far the most interesting thing I ever saw. If you know BBC series, you know they’re not shy about the, er, less pretty facts of someone’s life, so this serie might not be one you want to show to young children. (Although it’s not very explicit.) The best thing I think is, because it’s so beautiful and interesting, you remember a lot and can appear as a smart person to your peers because you know all kinds of facts about Byron, just by watching a movie. It seems very honest in its representation of Byron’s life.
My only remark would be: show us a little bit more Shelley!

Here are some Byron icons from the BBC series, if you feel Byron should represent you on various messageboards across the net.

You can send your child to Byron Bible Camp. I was very surprised for a minute, until I realised it’s probably named after a different Byron.

You can visit Byron’s home, which is very beautiful.

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