Since #Victober is wrapping up and Nonfiction November is about to kick off, I thought this would be the perfect time to highlight some Nonfiction Reads About the Victorian Era.
This is a fascinating period of history; one full of rapid change, progress and innovations that make our own modern lives possible. Some aspects of life in the nineteenth-century may be completely foreign to us, but many others remain utterly recognizable. Reading about this history can be illuminating, rewarding, and surprising. These informative nonfiction books all help paint a bigger picture of what life was really like during the Victorian era.
I’ve read the first book, and the rest are all on my TBR list.
How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman
I can highly recommend this entertaining and detailed look at everyday Victorian life. Ruth Goodman has a knack for bringing the past vividly to life in relatable and interesting ways. The book follows an average Victorian citizen over the course of their day; from waking up in the morning to climbing back into bed at night.
Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870 by Liza Picard
Liza Picard delves deeply into life in Victorian London over a thirty-year period of extraordinary change. Each chapter covers a different area of life in the city, such as: death, education, smells, and religion. This is a detailed and descriptive book that captures a slice of the city’s history.
The Victorians by A. N. Wilson
This is an epic tome that looks at history through the lens of the people who lived it. Wilson has compiled a comprehensive account of the Victorian era and its key players.
Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders
With this book, Judith Flanders takes readers on a tour through the rooms of a typical Victorian home. Along the way, she describes details of everyday life that help illuminate this fascinating period of history. Inside the Victorian Home uses primary sources such as diaries and advice books to create a fully fleshed description of domestic life.
Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth by Lee Jackson
Sometimes we look at the past through rose-colored glasses. In this case, Lee Jackson rips them right off. He takes readers on a tour of the dirty, smelly, polluted underworld of Victorian London and recounts the tireless work of reformers who tried to stem this tide of filth. Dirty Old London is a well-researched, engaging, and often humorous look at the unsavory sides of Victorian life.
We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill
It’s impossible to fully understand the Victorian era without first learning a bit about the woman who gave the era its name. While there are many books about Queen Victoria’s life, We Two focuses on her marriage and partnership with Prince Albert, and the ways in which their love story forever changed history. Gill provdes a comprehensive biography of this relationship that shaped the entire Victorian era.
Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill
Oneill’s Unmentionable is a chatty guide to Victorian womanhood. It’s a humorous look at the more private aspects of the life of a nineteenth-century woman. Oneill exposes the gritty details and stark realities of this era that we often tend to romanticize.
Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain by Judith Flanders
Consuming Passions is a riveting look at what the Victorians did for fun. Going beyond the details of everyday life, Flanders looks at what the Victorians read, how they shopped, where they went on holidays, and what hobbies they enjoyed.
Painting: Frith, William Powell. The Derby Day. 1856-8. Oil on canvas. Tate Britain, London, UK.