The Victorian era has dominated the popular imagination like no other period, but these myths and stories also give a very distorted view of the 19th century. The early Victorians were much stranger than we usually imagine, and their world would have felt very different from our own. It was only during the long reign of the Queen that a modern society emerged in unexpected ways.
Using character portraits, events, and key moments, Paterson brings the real life of Victorian Britain alive - from the lifestyles of the aristocrats to the lowest ranks of the London slums. This includes the right way to use a fan, why morning visits were conducted in the afternoon, what the Victorian family ate, and how they enjoyed their free time, as well as the Victorian legacy today: convenience food, coffee bars, window shopping, mass media, and celebrity culture.
©2012 Michael Paterson (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"Out of the babble of voices, Michael Paterson has been able to extract the essence of London itself. Read this book and re-enter the labyrinth of a now-ancient city." (Peter Ackroyd)
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As brief histories go, this one is extremely well done. Paterson's social history of Queen Victoria's reign is short on generalizations and dense with well-organized and meaty information about everything from architecture and furnishings to food and fashion. He stresses in particular the social revolutions that took place thanks to innovations in transportation and literacy during the Victorian era. Throughout his study, Paterson draws attention to how thoroughly life transformed from the beginning of Victoria's reign to its close, and how this age of intense change (both physical and intellectual) not only set the stage for much of the world we've inherited globally in the twenty-first century, but also marks the experience of that time as one that resembles our own more closely than we might realize.
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