What was life like in the Victorian era?
For everybody, like what women and girls often did everyday, what the men did, any really really important vents that happened? I need it for a story and also what did women and girls wear (and what were their dresses or whatever called?) and what were they allowed to do? Just everything I would probably need to know if I were to write a story that mostly took place in the Victorian era?
- go to www.victorianweb.org00
- It is quite hard to say, because the Victorian era covered a very long period of time, from 1837 to 1901, and there were quite a lot of changes in that period. Also, it would make a huge difference depending on what class the girls were. If they were working class girls for instance, they would be likely to be out at work by the time they were 14. If they were middle or upper class, they would be more likely to be schoolgirls. Where they turn up would make a big difference too. London, for example, was very different from one of the northern industrial towns, which would be quite different again from a country setting. Really it would help if you read some books about the Victorian era, and some books that were written in Victorian times would be helpful. There are several good books written by people who were children in the Victorian era and describe their childhoods vividly. 'Lark Rise to Candleford' for example, by Flora Thompson, describes her childhood and youth in an Oxfordshire village in the 1870s and 1880s. 'Period Piece' by Gwen Raverat, describes an upper middle class childhood and youth in Cambridge in the 1880s and 1890s. If you could give some more details about what part of the Victorian era, where they girls are, what class they are supposed to be etc, it would be possible to give more specific help. For instance, the life of a working class girl would be very different depending on where she came from. In one of the northern industrial towns, she would be quite likely to be a factory worker for instance. In London, where there were few factories, she would be more likely to work in domestic service or in a shop or to be a dressmaker for example. A country girl might be a servant, or work on a farm, or she might do something like straw plaiting (there was a great demand for straw hats, baskets etc). Or she might work in a shop or apost office, like Flora Thompson did. A particularly intelligent girl might be a pupil teacher, that is she would have been able to stay on at school, continuing her education and training to be a teacher at the same time. And in the late Victorian era, some girls were being employed in clerical work. A middle class girl would be likely to be still at school, or if she was an upper class girl, she might be educated at home by a governess rather than going to school. Some upper class girls did go to boarding schools. And the type of education she might expect would vary depending on which part of the Victorian era we are talking about.00
- The Victorian era lasted a long time (queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901), and there were many changes during this period. There were great changes in industry and technology for example. some of these affected women. For example, many women worked in factories, and even down mines, but during the course of the period various acts were passed restricting the hours that women and children could work, and banning women and children under ten from working underground in mines for example. legislation was also passed to stop boys being used to climb chimneys to clean them.
Fashions changed during the course of the era. In the early Victorian period the crinoline was popular. This was a sort of cage that went under the skirt and held it out in a wide bell shape. The crinoline went out of fashion in the 1860s, to be replaced by the bustle (which made the dress stick out behind). Throughout the Victorian period small waists were fashionable, and women wore coresets that squeezed their waists in.
The Victorian ideal was that women should stay at home and care for their homes and families, and have a good influence by their example. All the same, a great many single women and some married women had to work for a living. Large numbers of women worked in domestic service. Anyone who could afford it employed servants, even a family on a very modest ncome might employ a maid of all work (known as 'the girl'), and a very wealthy family might employ dozens. Many women worked in factories or ins weatshops (making clothes). Laundry work was another common job for a woman, there were no washing machines, so anyone who could afford it paid someone else to wash their clothes.
Increasing numbers of middle class women worked for a living during the Victorian period. Teachign was a very common occupation for women,a nd the reforms of Florence Nightingale made nursing respectable from the 1850s. The invention of the telegraph, the telephone, and the typewriter all led to more jobs for women, as women were found to be more adept than men at using all these devices.
Most women who worked expected to give up work when they married, unless they were very poor and had no choice but to keep working. And many upper class and upper middle class girls stayed at home until they married. They would enjoy themselves going to parties and dances, visiting friends, playing tennis and croquet, and riding if they were in the country. Most girls learnt to play the piano and to sing, and would enjoy learning the latest songs, playing duets with their friends etc.
Education became more widespread during the Victorian era. More schools were founded for poor children, and by the 1880s it was accepted that all children should have at least a basic elementary education. And there were more schools for girls which offered a comparable education to that of boys. And women's colleges were started at Oxford and Cambridge in the 1870s, though the number of women able to attend college was of course much smaller than it would be nowadays (few men in those days got a college education either).
Railways made travelling cheaper and quicker than it had ever been before, and in the late Victorian period boating became tremendously popular with all classes. Even a poor family could afford to take a boat out on the Thames for the day. Trips to the seaside were also very popular, gain a poor family could afford a day trip to the seaside, and those with more money cuold stay in boarding houses or hotels. Sea bathing was very popular, people went into the sea in bathing machines (wooden huts on wheels). This meant people coudl go into the water without being seen.00
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