Victorian Era and Vanity Publishers – My 200th Post!


Image: Semnoz / Wikimedia Commons

It’s kinda neat that it happened during the A-Z Challenge.  :)

I have absolutely nothing to give you, except a huge THANK YOU for following my blog.  You force me to attempt to be clever and come up with colorful examples when I’m talking about writing, because I want to entertain you.   I wish all of you good things and may 2012 be a much better year for all of us.

I love: the Victorian era.

It is generally defined by the reign of British monarch Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901, and named for her.  In America, those years of excess were dubbed “the Gilded Age” by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner.

Many people think of the Victorian era as a time of repressed morality.  Indeed, religion and social status were highly prized to the Victorians.  But for the first time, industrialization allowed the rise of a middle class, and mass-produced goods became available to the common man.

There are some dumb things about the age, such as protectionism and idealization of women, which didn’t allow them to reach their full potential.  And it took forever for people to realize that if you washed your hands before you delivered a baby, both mama and infant were much less likely to die.

The period saw a great uptick in discovery and technology, particularly at the end of the nineteenth century.   If you compare that time to the end of the twentieth century, they are very similar.  Look at all the cool things that exploded from the 1970s through the 1990s:

  • Internet
  • Home computers
  • The hepatitis B vaccine
  • The LCD display
  • Gene splicing
  • Cell phones

Now look at the the nineteenth century.  Before the 1850s, the telegraph, the sewing machine, and typewriters were invented.   That was only the beginning.   In the rush to the end of the century, the pace of these inventions sped up.  Between the 1870s and 1899, we have:

  • The telephone
  • The phonograph
  • Photography (daguerreotype first in1839)
  • A decent lightbulb (there’s one here that has been burning for over a hundred years)
  • The pneumatic tire
  • The movies
  • Vacuum cleaners

All the little gadgets people had back then are one reason miniaturists like the Victorian period so much.

Yes, there were crappy things about living in the Victorian era.   Children worked in factories and were often killed.   There was a thing called workhouses where the poor and unemployed were sent to live and conditions there were horrific.  Slums appeared in cities, sometimes cheek by jowl with the rich folk.   There was no air conditioning and you had to burn coal to stay warm, which made large cities look like this:

Nelson's Column during the Great Smog of 1952. Now imagine this with horse plop all over the streets.

Image: N T Stobbs / Wikimedia Commons

If you messed up socially, like married the wrong person, your life was ruined.   Remember how upset Rose’s mom was in the Titanic movie when Rose acted like she didn’t want to marry Cal?  If Mama had had to go to work, they would have lost not only their standard of living, but all their friends and any means of support, without any way to climb back out like we have now.

The era is a gold mine for historical fiction writers.   I’ve thought about trying my hand at it, given all the research I’ve done for miniatures.   Or perhaps I can worm it into another book somehow.

Bet you didn’t know that the Victorians:

  • Had a crap ton of pornography.  Yep.  Both in pictures and written form.  It’s pretty steamy too.  No, I won’t post a link.  Whatsamatta, yer Google finger broken?
  • Didn’t write recipes like they do now, when they wrote them at all.  They were like, “Take one bird, and wash well.  Stuff with a mixture of blah blah blah blah and roast in a hot oven until the juices run clear.”  You were expected to know what you were doing.
  • Took pictures of their dead loved ones (memento mori—WARNING: don’t click if you are extremely sensitive!).  Sometimes that was the only picture the person would have ever had taken.  It was sad, but it gave them a remembrance of their loved ones.  The term funeral parlor came from this era too.  When people died, viewings were held in the family home, in the parlor.  The Victorians were far more familiar with death than we were, and much less squeamish.
  • Made jewelry and crafts out of hair.  Again, remembrances and a horror of wasting things.

That’s all hair. From the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Image:  Wikimedia Commons


I hate: vanity publishers.

You pay them to publish your work.  People keep telling me I should self-pub.  I really, really, really, really don’t want to do it.

Part of the reason self publishing gets a bad rap comes from the fact that if they have the money, anyone can do it.  There are no standards.  Therefore, a lot of bad material finds its way out there.

Many decent writers are choosing to self publish, however, since the economy has affected the publishing business in a big way.  It’s also pretty cutthroat to do it the traditional way, but it does happen.

1 thought on “Victorian Era and Vanity Publishers – My 200th Post!

  1. Test…test…this is a comment test.

    If you use an email that is associated with a or WordPress account, the stupid blog platform will ask you to log in before you can comment. Use your junk email address or one that is not associated with WordPress. I’m trying to see if there is a way around it.

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