Renovated History

The Myth of the Victorian Era

Editor's note: We have a guest reporter, Miss Informed, who has visited many museums, websites, BBC articles, and read biographies of famous people who lived at the time (if you could call it livingand watched many PBS documentaries dealing with the Victorian Era. After hours and hours of this research, she has come to some amazing conclusions and compiled them for us. It's enough to make your skin crawl and to make you take down your lace curtains and smash your teacups. We submit to you the fruits of her labours, and hope it may do as a substitute for visiting all those museums yourselves. Oh, and please note, this is a graphic report and not for children or the infirm. 

The Myth of the Victorian Era
By Miss Informed

Forget what your fore-mothers told you. The modern scholars have brought the buried truth of the Victorian era to light. If you thought the Victorian era was full of happy people, who laughed and played and enjoyed life, little girls who scrap-booked with colorful die-cut rose pictures and sewed velvet cushions; little boys who rode bicycles and played base-ball; women who went out to the shops and planted rose gardens; men who invented things and worked normal jobs; in short, people who lived normal lives such as you or me; well, I am here to do away with that Pollyanna impression-- you were wrong. They lived miserable lives and died before they even knew there was anything to smile about.

In the Victorian times, everyone wore corsets, and died from trying to be so skinny. They had their ribs removed so that they could tie their corsets tighter. Women were oppressed, and compressed, for they wore corsets because they were not valued by men unless they were really, really skinny. They wore heavy clothing, yards and yards and pounds and pounds of heavy velvet material that made them walk very slowly. They gathered a lot of dirt with their long dresses, and so their fancy dresses were actually always very dirty. The women died from being run over by buggies because they could not make haste in their heavy clothing to get out of the way in time. In those days the streets were all mud, and the Women and children got stuck in the mud and died.

In those days, there were no doctors, so everyone died from diseases. There was no medical help available, and people were laying around dying in the streets. Only men were allowed to be doctors; the only option available to Women for a career was to be a prostitute. Only the rich could afford medicine and doctor visits.

Women died in childbirth, and children died at birth. Only the very rich could afford to stay alive. They hired servants to do everything, and many women became maids in rich people's houses, because the only careers open to Women were household help, such as cooks or scullery maids. Women were glad to have those jobs though, because if they stayed home and got married, they knew they would die in childbirth. Because they were not allowed to become feminists in those days, Women were not allowed to protest and thus were not given the option of aborting their unborn children, but had to wait until the child was born and died in childbirth, when they themselves died.

Rich people had elaborate houses built, while they sat around all day and did nothing. The rich people hired poor men to build their houses, because Women were not allowed to be carpenters. The only option available to them for a career was to become a milliner and make hats for the rich ladies who lived in the houses, or to become a seamstress and die from sewing in hot, crowded, stuffy rooms where they frequently stuck themselves with needles until they bled to death. The milliners stabbed themselves with hatpins and died. The dresses and hats they made were bought by the rich ladies who had nothing to do but die from heat strokes, which came from wearing the yards and yards of material in the summertime, and they also died from squishing their organs too much in tight corsets.

Pears Soap II



Pears Soap II

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There was no running water or plumbing back then. They had to use the bathroom in outhouses and in bedpans all the time. They had no toilets, and the whole place was unsanitary, and they died from diseases caused by having no sanitation, because they did not know about using soap and no one knew that they were supposed to wash their hands.

The houses had no air conditioning, so they were dreadfully hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. Everyone ate lead paint as it got into the food; people got sick and died from living in these houses.

Detail of Victorian Houses, Haight District, San Francisco, United States of America



Detail of Victorian Houses, Haight District, San Francisco, United States of America

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Cummins, Richard

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The higher the house, the more stairs you had to climb. Can you imagine having to walk up all those stairs in those heavy gowns? The rich women hired servants to run up and down the stairs so they did not have to do it themselves. Women were not allowed to wear pants so they could not do anything but sit around all day and knit lace. They had to sit in those houses and sew lace curtains while the men went out all day.
Victorian drawings and paintings were often straight out of an artist's fantasy.
Although many things were invented in the Victorian era (the automobile, telephone, electric cars, sewing machines, typewriters, etc.) only men could run them, as Women were not allowed to do so.

Women were not allowed to become train conductors, and so they were extremely limited as to careers. They could get married and have ten children (who would die in birth, after they themselves died in childbirth).

Portrait of a Large Family from Lyon, Late 19th Century



Portrait of a Large Family from Lyon, Late 19th Century

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The above family all died. 

 The only other option available to Women was to become a nanny in a rich household and take care of the rich people's children in the hot, stifling upstairs rooms of a large house.

Though there was a rising middle class, who were a group of capitalist pigs that just desired wealth above all else, and believed that people should get rich by hard work. All other people were either very rich or very poor. You either survived because you were rich, or you died because you were poor. The middle class men were so greedy for money, they worked themselves to death and since there was no welfare, the widows were left with no option to make a living except for painting fashion plates in Godey's Ladies' Books.


Fashion Plate Showing Clothes Designed by Madame Breant-Castel, from La Mode Illustree, 1864



Fashion Plate Showing Clothes Designed by Madame Breant-Castel, from La Mode Illustree, 1864

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Toudouze, Anais

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As it is today, when everybody in our time wears the latest fashion as seen on the movies and in magazines, Women all wore the latest fashion in the Victorian era, as seen in Godey's Ladies' Book. No one had a choice; if Women did not wear the things shown in the Book, they were shunned.


Poor people had no food and no homes. They lived in shacks and tenement houses and died from disease. They also died from exposure, for they had no clothes, since they were too poor to afford any. When you see photos of your poor ancestors from that era, please remember that they were wearing borrowed clothing to have their photos taken in, and at all other times they ran around naked and froze to death. Only the rich people could afford to heat their houses, and only the rich people had houses.

It was very primitive in the Victorian era. The Women were not allowed to use their brains, especially to make a living, so the men (who, we all know, have less brains) went out to work in coal mines and died. There was no welfare, and the only options available to Girls for work to support their families was to become a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. Since parents did not allow their Daughters to read and write, it was very difficult getting one of these schoolhouse jobs.

The School Room, 1853



The School Room, 1853

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Rankley, Alfred

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There was very little education; only the rich could afford to read and write. People died because they were not educated. The only textbooks available for children were ones that were full of religious bias and moral brainwashing. The stories in these books were scary moral tales, to try and frighten the children into being good.


The subjects in schools were limited to reading, writing, arithmetic, history, science, Latin, and the like, and children were not exposed to higher learning such as they are today. The only way to get away from the hogwash being taught to them was to run away from home and become drummer boys in the army. However, only boys were allowed to do that. Girls had to go home and learn to wash dishes and were not allowed to join the army. Boys were not allowed to cook and clean, and Girls were not allowed to shoot guns or climb trees.



Hinde's Popular Shilling Toys! Advertisement for a Victorian Doll's House



Hinde's Popular Shilling Toys! Advertisement for a Victorian Doll's House

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Children were spanked by their parents, and were not allowed to wear anything but miniature adult clothing. They died in childhood and because no television or video games were invented at that time, they sat around playing in the dirt and died.


Maiden Voyage



Maiden Voyage

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Foster, Myles...

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Women were not allowed to be educated. They were supposed to sit around all day and knit doilies. They were not thought valuable enough to learn how to read and write. Though the Pony Express and the Post Office existed at the time, if they brought a letter to a Woman, her husband or father or brother did not allow her to read it or they would beat her. Women were not allowed to become Pony Express riders, and the only career option available to them was to become a governess in a rich person's house and tutor the wealthy family's children.

Victorian Mother and Baby, Window Shades
Victorian Mother and Baby with Window Shade



Only the rich people could afford to drink wine; everyone else died from drinking contaminated water. The Women that did not want to become wives or mistresses (the only jobs women were allowed to have) they had no other options but to become advocates for the Temperance Movement, and under the umbrella of that movement they took out their frustrations of not being allowed to become men by taking axes and smashing saloons to pieces.
Women were not allowed to gamble and carry firearms, it was considered vulgar.
They threatened people with axes and forced them to drink water, which happened to be unfiltered and ingesting it killed people. Women were not allowed to be active in politics in those days; they were supposed to sit down and shut up and die from wearing corsets.

Victorian Lady by Fish Pond



Victorian Lady by Fish Pond

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Women were treated like animals by men. The rich women died from boredom, because they were not allowed to do anything but sit around all day and embroider handkerchiefs, and the poor women died from over-work because they had to sew, clean house, and cook for the rich ladies. Women were only allowed to be housewives, and since they were not allowed to work outside the home, they sat around all day and read novels or became busybodies visiting each other in parlors all day and gossipping. They were useless because they were not allowed to pursue a career in the military as they so desired to do. There were no options for them but to read etiquette books, give dinner parties and die from over-eating eating undercooked fish (they could only eat little tiny tea sandwiches and bon bons when wearing those corsets).

Victorians on Great Pyramid



Victorians on Great Pyramid

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Women were not allowed to become writers, so they used a man's name when they wanted to have their works published. That was because the majority of the female population could not read, and only men bought books, and they would not buy a book written by a Woman. Women were only allowed to read books written by men because it was a man's world.

Grand Victorian Bookshop, W and T Fordyce's Publishing Establishment Newcastle Upon Tyne



Grand Victorian Bookshop, W and T Fordyce's Publishing Establishment Newcastle Upon Tyne

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Women were not allowed to own any property whatsoever. Even women on a farm were only allowed to feed their husband's chickens. Women had no legal rights at all, and could not get a divorce. This forced them to have only one father for their children, and they all had the same last names. No one was allowed to live with the opposite sex without the benefit of marriage, so women were forced to get married. If a man lived with a woman and they were not married, the man was sent to jail.

The men hated living in the Victorian times, because all the women did the decorating, and the men despised living with flowers and lace curtains.

Tall Arched Windows Richly Draped, Oriental Rugs and Victorian Furniture in J.P. Widener's Home



Tall Arched Windows Richly Draped, Oriental Rugs and Victorian Furniture in J.P. Widener's Home

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Mieth, Hansel

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The Victorian era killed everyone who lived in it. What better proof of this than that everyone who lived in the Victorian era is dead? Black was the preferred garment color in the Victorian era, because everyone was in mourning for someone who had died. Every photo you see from that time shows that they either wore black or gray.
The average lifespan in the Victorian era was 40 years. 

Women were miserable in the Victorian era. 
Though many of us believed that we had ancestors who lived at that time, we need to face the facts square in the face and realize that we have been lied to. Though I was told that my great-great-great grandmother was a pioneer, who lived in covered wagon and set up housekeeping under a tree, who was brave and worked hard and suffered many tragedies, yet raised a fine brood of children who lived to grow up, I had to come to the conclusion that this did not really happen; those people all died unless they were very rich. Only the rich people survived the Victorian Era, and if you think otherwise, than you are not really here.


Editor's Note: Thank you, Miss Informed, for this enlightening article. Since I have no time to research these things for myself, I appreciate all of Miss Informed's hard work. 
Miss Informed is next going to study the Regency Era and correct our misconceptions about the time of Jane Austen. I imagine that we will find out that everyone died then, too, and therefore there was really no Victorian era, because no one lived through the previous era to see it. 


Besides Allposters, other graphics are courtesy either of Karen's Whimsy or Graphics Fairy. The photos are from Graphics Fairy Old Photos section. 
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