Wednesday, February 8, 2017

THE VICTORIAN ERA IN AMERICA--TOO MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH

1837-1901
By Celia Yeary


The recent 2017 PBS series titled “Victoria” has brought the rise of interest in Queen Victoria to America.  In 1837, a diminutive, neglected teenager is crowned Queen Victoria. She navigates the scandal, corruption, and political intrigues of the Court, and soon rises to become the most powerful woman in the world. Victoria stars Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) as Queen Victoria in a highly anticipated series that follows the drama of the candid, spirited monarch who was perhaps the first woman to seem to have it all.

Following Victoria from the time she becomes Queen through her passionate courtship and marriage to Prince Albert, the lavish premiere season of Victoria dramatizes the romance and reign of the girl behind the famous monarch.
Young Queen Victoria
Born 1819-Died 1901
American Victorianism was an offshoot of this period and lifestyle that occurred in the United States, chiefly in heavily populated regions such as New England and the Deep South. The name was derived from the reign of Queen Victoria, which reflected the heavy British cultural influence on the nation during the time.

As American business people of the Second Industrial Revolution created sprawling industrial towns and cities in the Northeast, the growing upper class of the Gilded Age mimicked the high society of their former mother country in dress, morality, and mannerisms. The period included various activities: the Second Industrial Revolution, the Women's suffrage movement, and Republican political domination.

After the Civil War to the turn of the century, wealth increased all across America. By 1870, an enormous building boom increased the number of millionaires to one hundred. With the advent of new money, the call for more of everything reigned among the wealthy.
Too much is not enough” became the mantra, as the rich constantly sought out new ways to display their prominence in society.
A RESTORED VICTORIAN HOME
From New York to the West coast, a woman of means threw her heart and soul into creating a home befitting her status. This meant building a home that was as festooned as a Christmas tree—inside and out.
 A VICTORIAN PARLOR
She stuffed every room with spindly, feminine furniture, until it overflowed with excess. She decorated with abandon, creating grossly decorated rooms, filled with every knickknack and gimcrack imaginable. A person might feel stifled and claustrophobic in the room.
VICTORIAN LADIES

The ladies, young and old, dressed in the fashions of the day. The outfits were as ornate as the homes in which they lived. Pronounced bustles, unnecessary and odd-looking, was part of every well-to-do lady’s dress. One dress might contain as many as twenty yards of silk and satin, and rows and rows of lace and fringe and ruffles decorated the necklines, hems, and bustles.

A lady strived for the most extravagant hairdo she could manage. She piled it high on her head, tortured it into masses of curls and ringlets, and above all, draped it with all manner of gewgaws to frame her face. All in the name of elegance.

In All My Hopes and Dreams, a Western Historical set in the Victorian era, 1880 Texas, Miss Cynthia Harrington lives in a big, white Victorian house in Nacogdoches, Texas with her banker father. As she says in the novel, “Nacogdoches is not exactly the social and fashion center of Texas.” However, she strives to be the best-dressed young lady of the small East Texas town. With her loveliness and poise, she manages to attract the attention of visiting horse-buyer, Ricardo Romero. Of course, they marry, and she soon learns that the Romero ranch on the far Western edge of the Texas Frontier most certainly differs in all ways from her usual lifestyle—and that includes dress. By the third day, she finds herself wearing boots, split skirt, blouse, and gaucho hat.
Read about their adventures and how they fall in love in ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS.
ONE PROPER LADY...ONE SENSUAL SPANIARD...

Celia YearyRomance, and a little bit of Texas

 


15 comments:

  1. Good for your heroine to opt for practicality. I wore a hoop dress to my junior prom. I looked like Scarlett O'Hara, but was ready to tear it off within an hour because it was hard to sit, hard to get around people and almost impossible to use the restroom while wearing. I've been a fan of practicality ever since. :-)

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    1. Yes, those dresses with so many petticoats...I'm thinking of GWTW and Scarlet in her overdone outfits of the day. I'm sure the women of the day thought nothing of it, and truly would be shocked if anyone thought to remove a few petticoats.

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  2. Great commentary on the Victorian lifestyle, Celia. I'm glad I didn't live in that era. All those frills and bustles must have been miserable in the heat of a Texas summer. And those overstuffed houses, good heavens! As you say, they would be claustrophobic. No thank you!

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    1. Lyn..Don't you know how horribly hot and uncomfortable those would be. I can't imagine. They make lovely pictures, but in reality, are tortuous.

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  3. Oh Celia, so enjoyed this post. What an era and certainly good for settings of fun stories. I just love the old Victorian homes with all its Gingerbread trim, peaks and big porches. In our area a lot of them are 3 or 4 colors and they're just stunning. Also humungus. But I too agree that those hoop skirts were cumbersome and long gloves and fancy hats were darn right sweltering in the hot weather for sure. As for the fancy-dancy hairdos--a woman, no doubt would have to avoid going out in a wind storm. If she didn't she would have looked like a wild woman. LOL! Absolutely loved ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS as well as the cover. Hoping it's still doing well.

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    1. Here in San Marcos, Texas...Central Texas..the Historic Society is dedicated to preserving all historic homes. There are a few Victorian homes...rather large, too. Not little cottages but full blown mansions.
      Just think, yes, of trying to put on all that clothing in this Texas heat. Horrible, just to think of actual citizens wearing all that.
      I'm so glad you like reading ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS. Livia made the cover. I pulled this from a publisher that had it for several years, and I appreciate Cheryl re-printing it...and Livia making this cover.
      Thanks so much for you comments.

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  4. Victorian homes are so cute. There are some in our village that are adorable!

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    1. Morgan, yes, well..here in Texas Victorian Homes are actually mansions..not small and cute as perhaps in other places. Oh, yes, we have to make everything BIG!
      Thanks for visiting, and I'm glad someone else appreciates these lovely old homes.

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  5. In Bloomsburg, PA where I was born, most of the houses are still old Victorians with lots and lots of gingerbread decorating them. I am very happy I didn't live in those Victorian years because I just don't think I could deal with those corsets and bustles. Ugh! It all reminds me of that movie with Daniel Day-Lewis titled THE AGE OF INNOCENSE in which even the food was over the top in elegance and expense.
    I loved Ricardo in ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS. It is one of my very favorites of your work.
    I have not seen this PBS series. I don't like starting in the middle of a series and I missed the beginning. I'm hoping to catch up with it on Netflix.
    Such a delightful blog, Celia.

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    1. Ricardo in this story got plenty of criticism from readers over the years. It seems when I found a new publisher...Cheryl...the attitudes had changed somewhat.
      Early on, readers though Ricardo was an idiot who didn't know how to treat a woman, and they were unforgiving, too. But with the new release, it seemed readers understood Ricardo because of his upbringing, and were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Very nice, because he did have a huge learning curve!....and we know how slow men can be at times...right?
      The PBS series is odd, in a way. I enjoy it, but the writers/producers have entered the downstairs people somehow in some nefarious plot. I haven't figured that out yet.

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  6. Victorian era is my favorite to set novels, though like yours, mine take place in the West. I loved All My Hopes and Dreams! And I liked Ricardo in the original version. May have to reread it as can't remember the ending. Lovely post, Celia!

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  7. I always love your posts, and this is a great novel! I recommend it.

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  8. I've always been a fan of the real Queen Victoria, but quit watching the series because I thought it digressed from facts. At the same time, I'm always happy when a historical program is popular.

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  9. I'm a little late to this party, but I live in a house that is pre-Civil War. It's my money pit. The gingerbread was added later and then over the years it was removed except for the porch, which was actually moved from one side of the house to the other in 1949.

    The summer heat is bearable downstairs with its high ceilings but not upstairs. Well, bearable in really skimpy clothing. I do know that women learned to wiggle those long hoop skirts and it's supposed to create a fan-like effect under the dress. But I don't think they had as much luck doing that with the bustled clothing. Living back then sounds glamorous, and I'm sure it was for a few but not for the average person.

    I would not want to live back then. And I frequently wonder why I am living in his old house when 600 sq ft of modern space would do just fine. But when I look at the craftsmanship in this old dame, I can't help but love her.

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  10. So glad to be able to go back to posts I've missed. Enjoyed reading this one, Celia. I, too admire the Victorian era, dress and lifestyles, but glad our styles are much more practical and comfortable!

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