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Victorian Literature

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Can anyone recommend favorite books either set in Victorian London as historical fiction or written at that time? I've read Dickens, of course, and most recently Libba Bray's trilogy - but need to read a lot more. I'd love to know your favorites.
#1 - February 16, 2010, 10:33 PM
Robin

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Would Prada and Prejudice qualify?
#2 - February 17, 2010, 07:04 AM
A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY, Sept. 2012
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning
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Me & Jack

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AdamV

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Sherlock Holmes.
#3 - February 17, 2010, 07:41 AM

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Blue Boarder Marissa Doyle's books.

If you like Dickens, try Wilkie Collins (WOMAN IN WHITE, THE MOONSTONE). If you like literary, read George Eliot.
Frances Hodgsen Burnett (SECRET GARDEN, A LITTLE PRINCESS) was a Victorian, and so was Lewis Carroll.

#4 - February 17, 2010, 07:51 AM

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Is this for historical research?  Victoria reigned a long, long time so you might want to narrow it down if you're setting something in a particular year.  The difference between Becky Sharp's London and Sherlock Holmes's is probably pretty great.

The Picture of Dorian Gray and the plays of Oscar Wilde
Novels of Anthony Trollope--a lot of these take place in the country but you'll probably find some that take place in London
Vanity Fair, Thackery--only partly in London
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
New Grub Street by George Gissing
Fingersmith and other novels by Sarah Waters
#5 - February 17, 2010, 08:06 AM
WITCHLANDERS
Lena Coakley
Exquisite storytelling plus atmospheric worldbuilding equals one stunning teen debut. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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Not a novel, but a contemporary study: Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor--four-volume account of the people of London, reported at first hand. Masses of material here.
#6 - February 17, 2010, 08:19 AM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/HUnderdown

Thanks HaroldU!
Tulip - I'm still trying to pick my year. I don't want it so close to 1900 that if I write a sequel I end up in the 20th century. I'm thinking 1875, but I'm not sure yet.

Love the recommendations - keep them coming!!!
 :tinkerbellheart (b/c my 4 year old daughter is here...)
#7 - February 17, 2010, 08:20 AM
Robin

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Oh, you should read London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd.  I haven't actually read it myself, but I hear it's great.
#8 - February 17, 2010, 08:31 AM
WITCHLANDERS
Lena Coakley
Exquisite storytelling plus atmospheric worldbuilding equals one stunning teen debut. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

George Eliot's MIDDLEMARCH is one of my most favorite books ever. Charlotte Bronte's JANE EYRE and VILLETTE are fabulous as well—she had such a mastery of prose!
#9 - February 17, 2010, 10:51 AM

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I'm a big Anthony Trollope fan myself...don't recall off-hand how much he used London as a setting, though I know the Palliser novels have some London in them.   Arthur Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes is another possibility.  Are you thinking more about upper or working/lower class characters/settings?
#10 - February 17, 2010, 11:02 AM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

Marissa - I'm writing steampunk set in Victorian London, so it will be an alternate history, but I want to know the setting really well before I mess with it. I'd say I'm primarily interested in the lower class street culture, but do need to know some of the upper class workings, too.  In my book, they will be mostly non-existent, but I need to reference them intelligently. I've read enough Victorian Lit and history to feel like I know it, but then when I go to write it I realize I've got some definite gaps in knowledge, so I'm doing a reading blitz!
#11 - February 17, 2010, 12:43 PM
Robin

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Okay, that helps.  I've got a few non-fiction resources to recommend--Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870 by Liza Picard, An Illustrated Map of Charles Dickens' London 1812-1870 by Kenneth William Baxendale, and The Regency Underworld by Donald Low (yes, it's earlier than Victorian, but still a useful book).  If you don't have them already.  :)  Good luck!
#12 - February 17, 2010, 12:52 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

ninajw

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I was just planning my JANE EYRE lessons for next week, and I clicked here to take a break and saw your question!

Anything by the Bronte sisters.

I LOVED Thomas Hardy's novels  as a teenager--really dark and depressing!

There are also a bunch of great true crime novels out about Victorian era crimes (like THE SUSPICIONS OF MR. WHICHER.)
#13 - February 17, 2010, 12:59 PM

soniag

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A MG fiction option:  The Enola Holmes books by Nancy Springer.  Lots of great period detail, particuarly of the seamier side of London. 

I second FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters.  Definitely get the lower class street culture from that!
#14 - February 17, 2010, 02:49 PM

Oooo, you are all so helpful! Thank you!

Marissa - I've got the first of those books ordered but will get the other two. The illustrated map is just what I need!

True crime is a great idea and Fingersmith sounds great. :)
#15 - February 17, 2010, 03:15 PM
Robin

marybethb

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You also might want to look at THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER by Leanna Renee Hieber.  It's an awesome ghost story/romance. 
#16 - February 17, 2010, 03:31 PM

soniag

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Oh, to add to Marissa's list, there's

Baedeker's Guide: London and its Environs 1900 (Great maps, but it might be too late for you.  There's also Baedeker's Guide to Great Britain 1890, with lovely maps!)

Dickens's Dictionary of London 1888

Both available at evil Amazon.   :ha
#17 - February 17, 2010, 03:34 PM

Kurtis

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Although it's an alternate history, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a Victorian novel in its style and its setting is inspired by Victorian England, and it is a really wonderful book to boot.
#18 - February 17, 2010, 03:39 PM

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Hmm--more Regency/Georgian than Victorian, Kurtis--but yes, it's one of my favorite books!

Mysteryrobin, here's a couple more:  The Victorian Town Child and The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Servant, both by Pamela Horn, might be helpful--all her books are excellently researched with lots of primary source quotes.  Also Lost London by Hermione Hobhouse--out of print but check Abebooks--hundreds of photographs of places in London that no longer exist.
#19 - February 17, 2010, 04:15 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

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Ann Perry does a good job at using the city & history in her mystery (adult) books.

And if you're looking for data, WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE & CHARLES DICKENS KNEW is a fun research book.   Online, the George Landow's Victorian Web is a great research. It covers both non-academic & academic topics.

#20 - February 17, 2010, 04:25 PM

marybethb

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"IMAGES OF THE OUTCAST: The Urban Poor in the Cries of London" by Sean Shesgreen is more Georgian than Victorian, but it's great. 

This is also a bit earlier, but I love love love "DR. JOHNSON'S LONDON: Coffee-Houses and Climbing Boys, Medicine, Toothpaste and Gin, Poverty and Press-Gangs, Freakshows and Female Education" by Liza Picard. 

Research is like chocolate to me, I have to constantly remind myself to be moderate.   :cookiemonster
#21 - February 17, 2010, 05:40 PM

ecb

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And if you're looking for data, WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE & CHARLES DICKENS KNEW is a fun research book. 

I *adore* this book. It's very much a light sort of survey, but I can't tell you how much I wish I'd had it while getting my English lit degree!!  I second the Liza Picard book.

A couple of fun steampunk recommendations: Tracy Lynn's SNOW is a Steampunk "Snow White" (and so, so fabulous), and I also loved Jim Blaylock's LORD KELVIN'S MACHINE.  Try to find the hardcover; they did not reproduce the illustrations for the paperback, and you'll miss them.
#22 - February 17, 2010, 07:52 PM

vfury

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Thank you to everyone who suggested non-fiction titles! I'm about to start researching for my steampunk book, so these will be incredibly handy to look up.  :D
#23 - February 18, 2010, 01:58 PM

Ooo, a fellow Steampunk author!!

May I ask also -I saw a couple of books mentioned with maps - did you have any other maps you've worked with? I've been searching the internet for Victorian maps that would give me a good sense of both the London streets in detail and then the outlying countryside and they've mostly been really tiny or large and difficult to use - if any of you used particular maps with great success I'd love to hear about those, too. :)

I got Victorian London today and am loving it so far - a great companion to What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens knew. I wish I'd posted weeks ago and saved myself beating my head against the keyboard all this time. :)
#24 - February 18, 2010, 06:50 PM
Robin

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Right now I'm writing somewhat earlier than you (1814-1815) and have used a book called The A to Z of Regency London, which is basically a very detailed street map of London made in 1819 and republished in book form by the London Topographical Society.  It was a bit pricy, but invaluable.

A quick look in another bookcase found A Victorian Household by Shirley Nicholson and Dailiy Life in Victorian England by Sally Mitchell.  The Daniel Pool books are fun reading, but he doesn't differentiate in period between the late Georgian/Regency and Victorian eras in his discussions, so double check facts if using him.
#25 - February 18, 2010, 07:04 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders is another very enjoyable research book. And I second anything by Liza Picard!
#26 - February 19, 2010, 09:17 AM
Author of the Magic Under Glass duology
& Between the Sea and Sky
Dark Metropolis, 6/14
http://jaclyndolamore.blogspot.com

Thanks Marisa - I wondered about that - I thought Jane Austen and Charles Dickens would have experienced London pretty differently.

A detailed street map is exactly what I'm looking for - it's a little earlier than what I'm writing, but I could use it as a reference then double check specifics. And I've got some room to play with the "alternate history" bit.

The Liza Picard book is fabulous so far - and quickly dispelling some of the romanticism I've had about the era. ;)

Thank you for the tip on Flanders, Jaclyn.
#27 - February 19, 2010, 10:19 AM
Robin

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Robin, the Charles Dickens' London 1812-1870 has some partial maps as well, so it might be enough for your purposes.  I'd check it out before ponying up the $60-$80 that copies of the 1819 book usually cost.  :ahh

Good luck!! :thankyou
#28 - February 19, 2010, 10:52 AM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

Heliotrope

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Not sure if you've also seen these two sites but just in case:

The Charles Booth map is really interesting in terms of understanding poverty & geography in the period
http://booth.lse.ac.uk/static/a/4.html

The museum of London has some photos in its archives (scroll to the bottom of this page) which bring things to life too

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/English/Collections/1700Today/
#29 - February 19, 2010, 11:32 AM

mclicious
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I can't think of any books that haven't been mentioned here, but here is a non-fiction book about the period: At Her Majesty's Request by Walter Dean Myers. Also, I'm not sure if you can have access if you're not a member of a university, but I would look at Early American Imprints online. they include a lot of books that were originally published in England as well, and it spans from the 1600s to 1840 or so.
#30 - February 24, 2010, 09:25 AM

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