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Need material on Victorian England.

Discussion in 'Research' started by rhd, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. rhd

    rhd Troubadour

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    So I've written an intro to a whodunnit that I plan to expand on, based in Victorian England, London specifically. The period I'm interested in is the 1880's, going by the bustles and whalebone corsets (that's how I picture my characters). My main characters are decently fleshed out, the problem is my knowledge of the place is based on colonial era romance novels so I know more about dresses than I know about anything relevant to the story I'm writing, like
    -political events at the time
    -how it was to travel to different countries (transport), details of ships n trains.
    -physical descriptions of architecture
    - some stuff on military, army, navy etc.
    -class divisions
    -opium dens and drug addiction, the kinds of people it affected
    -multicultural stuff at the time, immigrants etc.,
    -important institutions
    -the state of medical science
    -engineering (invention) at the time
    -and also British relationships with the countries they'd colonised.
    Also, I need it as a quick reference, so links will really help, however if those aren't available please post any info that will help. I need enough info to be able to flesh out the backdrop to a novella (15k-30k) length story. If someone's got a comprehensive, quick reference like an alphabetical thing, someone who has already done the hard work of putting the info together, please let me know. I know it's asking a bit much :p Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
  2. rhd

    rhd Troubadour

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    Make that the late 1890s, I need it to be as close as possible to the real life characters that my MC interacts with.
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    OK, so knowing how to research is fundamental to being a fantasy writer.
    Victorians: Daily Life | English Heritage
    Could You Have Dealt With These 10 Bizarre Aspects Of Life In Victorian England?
    Victorian age Life of People in England/London,Family,Children,Society
    I snagged this in about two minutes by searching on "daily life in victorian london"
    You can search on "nobles" or "workers" or "criminals". You can search on treatment or food or clothing in place of "daily life".

    And a helpful tip for life in forums. You will get better help if you say that you have Question X, and you have looked Here, and Here and Here. People are more willing to help you pull the cart when it looks like you've put in a little work on your own.
     
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  4. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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  5. rhd

    rhd Troubadour

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    Yes, unfortunately I'm one of those pop culture list, documentary type researchers and realised that some of that stuff might be romanticised. I'm looking doe some critique, something dark I might have missed.
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The Victorian era is endlessly dark. But there's really no substitute for digging in and learning. The stuff you listed in the OP looks to me like a hundred hours or more of work. Probably not what you had in mind.

    Maybe there's another way to approach this. You say you have already written the story. What specific details are you unsure about?

    Also, there are sections in general writing forums that are about historical fiction, and you'll always find a Victorian section. You might try over there.
     
  7. rhd

    rhd Troubadour

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    It helps that I've outlined the intro and the basic plot, so I know what to delve into, however my backdrop is still very flimsy and needs those basic descriptions that hold up the story. The all round surface aspects, brief timelines, important events will help me root the characters so that I don't have to spell out 'victorian era'. Now if my villain is a mob boss of sorts, I'll delve into the state of the black market and street gangs at the time, so, however haphazardly, I'll flesh out my story as I personally root myself into the era and become more confident about the backdrop. It will take time of course, but if anyone's done this before they can always guide me.
     
  8. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    If you want a feel for the era, I'd watch Ripper Street... Not as good as real research but it might have the tone and feel you are looking for.
     
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  9. Corwynn

    Corwynn Troubadour

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    Here are a few resources that I think might be helpful.

    Look up Henry Mayhew. He compiled a number of statistics on Londoners and London life, and compiled his findings in London Labour and the London Poor. It is a valuable primary resource, especially for the lower classes. The statistics were compiled around 1851, so they may be a bit out of date for an 1880s setting, but I imagine much of it would have still held true.

    Another valuable resource is Passing English of the Victorian Era. It was written in 1909, and is an encyclopaedia of Victorian slang terms, with descriptions of what they meant, how they originated, and where and when they were used. You can read it online at Gutenberg.com.

    Lastly, there is Victorian London: the Life of a City 1840-1870 by Liza Picard. It is one of many modern books about the era, but it is a personal favourite of mine, and it paints a vivid picture of daily life in Victorian London. As the subtitle suggests, it is a bit outside of your time period, but most of the information still holds true throughout the era.
     
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  10. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    I'd also suggest reading some Charles Dickens...
     
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  11. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    You can rarely go wrong reading Charles Dickens...
     
  12. Gonna lurk on this thread because my WIP has some very vague Victorian influences.
     
  13. rhd

    rhd Troubadour

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    There's some amazing essays out there guys.
     
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