If you want to find out more about life in the Victorian period, you’ll quickly discover there’s a wealth of material out there, including books, websites and contemporary publications. The sheer amount of information can be overwhelming so I’ve put together a list of some of the most useful and detailed resources I’ve used while researching my books.
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Websites and blogs
The British Newspaper Archive is indispensable for anyone interested in the nineteenth century but beware! You can easily spend hours and hours reading reports in national and local newspapers about the latest crimes, accidents and big news stories. The advertisements are fascinating too.
The Dictionary of Victorian London is Lee Jackson’s incredibly detailed website about life in the capital, helpfully arranged into topics such as food and drink, housing and transport. Many of the highlighted issues were experienced in other large cities across Britain.
The Victorian Web is a wonderful starting point for discovering more about Victorian social history, and much more besides. Although it’s a scholarly website, it includes plenty of interesting primary and secondary resources for the ordinary reader.
The best books by Victorian servants telling their stories, warts and all is my round-up of memoirs and autobiographies by servants who worked during the Victorian period. Forget Downton! These books describe what life was really like to be in domestic service at that time.
The history of the world’s most famous clock – Big Ben explores its design, how it was named, the casting of the bell, and its very special place in history.
Barr, Pat (ed.), I Remember: An Arrangement for Many Voices (Macmillan, 1970)
Best, Geoffrey, Mid-Victorian Britain 1851-75 (Flamingo, 2008)
Briggs, Asa, Victorian Cities: Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Melbourne, London (Penguin Books, 1968)
Burnett, John (ed.), Useful Toil: Autobiographies of Working People from the 1820s to the 1920s (Modern British History) (Routledge, 1994)
Burnett, John (ed.), Destiny Obscure: Autobiographies of Childhood, Education and Family From the 1820s to the 1920s (Modern British History) (Routledge, 1994)
Burton, Elizabeth, The Early Victorians at Home (Arrow Books, 1974)
Cumming, Valerie, Cunnington, C W and Cunnington, P E, The Dictionary of Fashion History (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)
Davies, Margaret Llewelyn (ed.), Life As We Have Known It: The Voices of Working-Class Women (Virago Modern Classics) (Virago, 2012)
Flanders, Judith, The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London (Atlantic Books, 2013)
Flanders, Judith, The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Harper Perennial, 2004)
Halliday, Stephen, The Great Filth (The History Press, 2011)
Harrison, J F C, Early Victorian Britain: 1832-51 (Harper Perennial, 2008)
Harrison, J F C, Late Victorian Britain 1875-1901 (Fontana Press, 1990)
Horn, Pamela, Labouring Life in the Victorian Countryside (Alan Sutton Publishing, 1987)
Horn, Pamela, Pleasures and Pastimes in Victorian Britain (Amberley Publishing, 2011)
Hughes, M V, A London Child of the 1870s (Oxford University Press, 1934)
Hughes, M V, A London Girl of the 1880s (Oxford University Press, 1946
Hughes, M V, A London Home in the 1890s (Oxford University Press, 1946)
Keating, Peter (ed.), Into Unknown England 1866-1913: Selections from the Social Explorers (Fontana, 1976)
Paxman, Jeremy, The Victorians (BBC Books, 2010)
Picard, Liza, Victorian London: The Life of a City 1840-1870 (Life of London) (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2006)
Royston Pike, E, Human Documents of the Age of the Forsytes (George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1969)
Royston Pike, E, Human Documents of the Victorian Golden Age (George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1967)
Streatfeild, Noel (ed.), The Day Before Yesterday (Collins, 1956)
Wilson, A N, The Victorians (Arrow Books, 2003)
Winstanley, Michael J, The Shopkeeper’s World 1830-1914 (Manchester University Press, 1983)
Many of these out-of-print titles are available on Project Gutenberg, Google Books or The Internet Archive.
Beeton, Mrs Isabella, The Book of Household Management (S O Beeton Publishing, 1861)
Booth, Charles, Life and Labour of the People of London (1886-1903)
Cassell’s Family Magazine
Cassell’s Handbook of Etiquette: Being a Complete Guide to the Usages of Polite Society (Cassell, Petter and Gallpin, 1860)
Davidson, Lillias Campbell, Hints to Lady Travellers: At Home and Abroad (Iliffe & Son, 1889)
Engels, Friedrich, The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 (1892)
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, Passages from the English Note-Books (James R Osgood and Company, 1871)
Mayhew, Henry, London Labour and the London Poor (1861)
Sims, George R (ed.), Living London (3 volumes, 1901-1903)
The Illustrated London News