Sunday, February 28, 2021

A Visitor's Guide to Victorian England


A Visitor's Guide to Victorian England is an interesting and layman accessible guide to the social mores, dress, dangers, and sights of Victorian England written by Michelle Higgs. Originally published in 2014, this reformat and re-release due out 28th Feb 2021 from Pen & Sword is 224 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

I love the Victorian era in theory. I love the literature, the music, the dress, the civilized aspects. In short, I love the curated sanitised version provided in a modern BBC costume drama and would have in actual fact decried the squalid and desperately short lives of the actual reality of the time (and probably been locked up and/or beaten to death for my troubles). This interesting and fairly comprehensive guide gives a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of people who lived then, from the recollections and contemporaneous period writings. 

The book is arranged in a format which will be familiar to readers of other tourist and "visitor's guides". Topics are arranged thematically: orienting oneself, accommodations, clothing, food & drink, travel, shopping, health hazards, interacting socially, entertainment, and customs & traditions. The information is relayed in plain language liberally interspersed with quotes and references to contemporaneous sources. 

The text is not annotated and there are no footnotes or chapter notes included, however the author has provided a number of very useful appendices including a schedule of typical costs of daily life as well as wages and salaries during the period. There's also a cross referenced index and a succinct timeline. There are numerous illustrations and facsimile documents scattered relevantly throughout which I found illuminating.The extensive bibliography invites exploration and will provide useful avenues for further research. 

Four stars. It would make a good choice for public or home library acquisition, as well as being a good resource for writers interested in background research for the period. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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