HOW TO BE A VICTORIAN

A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life

Ruth Goodman

A delightful tour through the intimate details of life in Victorian England, told by a historian who has cheerfully endured them all.

Ruth Goodman believes in getting her hands dirty. Drawing on her own adventures living in re-created Victorian conditions, Goodman serves as our bustling and fanciful guide to nineteenth-century life. Proceeding from daybreak to bedtime, this charming, illustrative work celebrates the ordinary lives of the most perennially fascinating era of British history. From waking up to the rapping of a “knocker-upper man” on the window pane to lacing into a corset after a round of calisthenics,

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A delightful tour through the intimate details of life in Victorian England, told by a historian who has cheerfully endured them all.

Ruth Goodman believes in getting her hands dirty. Drawing on her own adventures living in re-created Victorian conditions, Goodman serves as our bustling and fanciful guide to nineteenth-century life. Proceeding from daybreak to bedtime, this charming, illustrative work celebrates the ordinary lives of the most perennially fascinating era of British history. From waking up to the rapping of a “knocker-upper man” on the window pane to lacing into a corset after a round of calisthenics, from slipping opium to the little ones to finally retiring to the bedroom for the ideal combination of “love, consideration, control and pleasure,” the weird, wonderful, and somewhat gruesome intricacies of Victorian life are vividly rendered here. How to Be a Victorian is an enchanting manual for the insatiably curious.

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  • Liveright
  • Hardcover
  • October 2014
  • 464 Pages
  • 9780871404855

Buy the Book

$29.95

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About Ruth Goodman

Ruth Goodman is a historian of British social and domestic life. She has advised the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Globe Theatre and presented a number of BBC television series, including Victorian Farm. She lives in England.

Praise

Goodman’s impeccably researched account will raise readers’ eyebrows with her adventures “living history”… [Her] 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.” Publishers Weekly, Starred review

Goodman skillfully creates a portrait of daily Victorian life with accessible, compelling, and deeply sensory prose… Compulsively readable.

—Erin Entrada Kelly, Library Journal, Starred review

[E]ntertaining… Goodman mixes historical context with technical know-how; in addition to explaining why women wore corsets she tries wearing—and even making—one herself… [T]he book’s accumulation of detail on matters as diverse as purchasing a ticket for the new underground railway, administering an opium-based tonic to a baby, and signaling interest in a homosexual affair makes you feel as if you could pass as a native.”

— The New Yorker

If the past is a foreign country because they do things differently there, we’re lucky to have such a knowledgeable cicerone as Ruth Goodman…. Goodman’s fascination with the objects of the past doesn’t lead her to fetishize or romanticize them. She is admirably matter-of-fact…. Revelatory.” — Alexandra Kimball, Wall Street Journal