Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why the Victorian Era?

1888 Regent Circus, now Oxford Circus, looking down Oxford Street
Scoundrels in dark back alleys, the gleam of gaslight on rain-soaked cobblestones, women discarding their corsets and marching in the streets for women's rights. What's not to love about the Victorians?

I am completely taken with the Victorian era. It has intrigued me for as long as I can remember, and the more I learn about the period, the more fascinated I am. Spanning nearly a century, from the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign in 1837 to her death in 1901, it was a period of enormous change in terms of culture, fashion, technology, and so many aspects of British society as a whole.

Our current century has been one of massive changes and people sometimes bemoan the rapidity of transformation, the lack of continuity, and the loss of a nostalgic past. I imagine those who lived their lifetime during the nearly 70 years of the Victorian Era must have felt much the same. There were so many changes during that generation that when you tell folks that you're interested in Victorian history, you may mean something quite different if you're referring to the 1840's rather than the 1890's.

During the years of Queen Victoria's reign the British population more than doubled and technological changes multiplied, medicine advanced and the empire grew, despite rebellion in India in 1857. It was a time of relative peace, though the British Army engaged in war in the Crimea, South Africa, and Afghanistan.

Young Queen Victoria
As a writer, I love the possibilities offered by the late 19th century. Women's roles were beginning to change and the push for women's suffrage was in full swing. In fact, I can't seem to write a Victorian heroine that doesn't have some interest in the changes affecting women during this period.

The overpopulated and poverty-stricken East End of London was the site of heinous crimes, but it was also full of resourceful individuals who developed underground economies to survive. Those people may not be the ones who make the history books, but I find their lives, struggles, and determined spirit fascinating and great source of story ideas.

I hope this site will become a resource for those of us who set our stories during the Victorian era. Stop back often for history, photos, reviews, features on authors and books, giveaways, and much more.

Do you set your stories during the Victorian era? What appeals to you about the period?