Thursday, 8 May 2014

Everyday Llife of our Victorian Ancestors

I've been trying to catch up after the mammoth daily April A-Z Challenge - so just a short piece from me this month on a book that is well worth reading as background material for writing your family history narratives.

Do you want to find out what life was really like for your ancestors living  in Victorian Britain?    

17321139 I recommend "How to be a Victorian" by Ruth Goodman, published by the Penguin Group in 2013.

It is  a fascinating read that gives us an insight  into how Victorians lived their daily lives, whether they be rich of poor, town or country based.  

Material has been gathered from contemporary accounts,  letters, diaries, newspapers and magazines.   

The author takes an innovative approach by following a typical routine  day in all its detail  for both men and women;  from the point of waking up - by a servant in a grand house or a"knocker upper" poking a stick at the window of a miner or mill worker's home.

Of added interest are the descriptions by the  author of her attempts to experience some aspects  of Victorian life  - such as doing the laundry, trying out Victorian recipes, heating the home or  struggling into the multi layers of dress.

We often can gather information quite easily on the life of the upper classes. but the emphasis here is very much on the day to day lives  of ordinary people.  

Chapters look at 
  • Waking Up
  • Getting Dressed 
  • A Trip to the Privy
  • Personal Grooming
  • Breakfast and Midday Meal
  • A typical  working day -  for both men & women 
  • School
  • Leisure Time
  • The Evening Meal 
  • Before Bed
  • Behind the Bedroom Door 
Just one slight niggle - there is hardly anything on the the part church played in people's lives,    which I found surprising, given our perception of the Victorian preoccupation with religions observances.

This is no dry historical textbook, but an engrossing read, (or a book to dip into), to experience what life was really like for our ancestors.   



  1. We've just got this book in stock at work, I'll have to have a look, thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Thanks for sharing this book. I looked into it and think it's a must have.

  3. It does sound interesting, even without Victorian ancestors.

  4. I am seriously thinking of ordering this book and I rarely do that any more. My library brimith over now. :-)


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