How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life

Ruth Goodman. Norton/Liveright, $29.95 (464p) ISBN 978-0-87140-485-5
British social historian Goodman reveals what life was like in the Victorian era in a manner most readers have likely never encountered before: by personally subscribing to Victorian mores and way of life. Goodman’s impeccably researched account will raise readers’ eyebrows with her adventures “living history.” Along the way, she replicates an array of activities and behaviors: she creates and wears numerous styles of period clothing, tries out popular calisthenics for women and girls, uses 19th-century hygiene practices, adjusts to the discomfort of the corset, launders clothes laboriously by hand, and does much else. Goodman has meticulously documented the common Victorian man and woman, explaining practicalities, expenses, and rationales for their actions. For example, a popular scientific notion was that closed windows in rooms were unhealthy, so many people kept their windows open, even in freezing temperatures. Goodman’s charming guide richly illustrates what daily life was like for common people undergoing the massive social changes of the time and succeeds in presenting “a more intimate, personal and physical sort of history.” Illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/28/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-241-95834-6
Open Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-87140-853-2
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-63149-113-9
Paperback - 300 pages - 978-0-670-92136-2
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