Victorian Sources Etc

So what am I doing this week?  Getting out the Christmas decorations, finishing revisions and starting the next book, and getting ready to head to Santa Fe to do last-minute wedding prep stuff!  (the big day is a week from Saturday–I can’t believe it’s coming up so soon).  But here at the Riskies we have some Big Changes coming up as well.  Next week we are switching over to a new design, with all sorts of new features and fun things, and to celebrate we’ll have prizes all week.  Be sure and join us for the party!!!

Last week, when i talked about my new book Two Sinful Secrets, Elena asked me about sources for this period.  Researching is one of the most fun aspects of writing historicals, and delving into a newer-to-me period is always a ton of fun (at least it is for a history nerd like me!).  In my first series as Laurel McKee, “The Daughters of Erin” trilogy, I used the history of late 18th/early 19th century Ireland as an integral part of the conflict and characters.  I didn’t do that with this new series, “The Scandalous St. Claires”–history is more a background, we don’t actually see Queen Victoria etc.  But it’s so, so important to me to get the background just right.  Every time period has its own “feeling,” its own atmosphere and attitudes (though human nature is, in so many things, eternal, so it’s always easy to recognize characters even if they’re products of their time).  I used the early Victorian period, mid to late 1840s (mostly because I love the “Young Victoria” style fashions), so the massive changes of the period hadn’t quite taken hold, but events were moving at a faster and faster pace.  Industry was overcoming the agrarian lifestyle, a strict morality (outwardly at least–inwardly the Victorians were some of the naughtiest people in history) was creeping in, and lots of good things were going on that could be mined for romance stories….

Here are a few of the sources I enjoyed while researching this era:
–Suzanne Fagence Cooper, The Victorian Woman (2001)
–Richard D. Altick, Victorian People and Ideas (1973) (this one had great info on the life of the slums and the lower classes, perfect when outlining the childhood of my first St. Claire heroine, Lily in One Naughty Night)
–Jennifer Hall-Witt, Fashionable Acts: Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780–1880 (2007) (I think Elena recommended this one way back when, and it was so valuable to me since the St. Claires are theater owners!  The theater was really booming in the Victorian era…)
–Martin Pugh, Britain Since 1789: A Concise History (1999)
–E. Evans, The Forging of the Modern State: Early Industrial Britain (1996)
–P. Levine, Victorian Feminism (1987)
–J. Walvin, Leisure and Society 1830-1950 (1978) and Victorian Values (1987)
–Donald Thomas, The Victorian Underworld (1998)

For Two Sinful Secrets I also had to research Paris in the era, which of course I loved!  More info on that later (plus fun Victorian Christmas stuff–they really, really loved the holiday!)

Have you found any good historical sources lately?  Any Christmas traditions you think came from historical time periods that you use in your own celebrations??

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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