A Passion for Auburn Hair: Victorian Views On Reddish-Brown Tresses

“Her friends call her hair auburn, but her enemies call it red.”

Sylvia’s Book of the Toilet, 1881.

Alice by Henry Tanworth Wells, 1877.

Auburn hair has long been admired for its beauty. In the sixteenth century, Titian famously painted beautiful women with hair of a reddish hue. While in his epic Regency era poem Don Juan, Lord Byron waxed rhapsodic about dancing girls, each having:[…]Continue Reading

The Scent of Violets: Perfume, Cosmetics, and Crime in the Late Victorian Era

“The fondness for violets increases with time, and many women of fashion will tolerate no other fragrance.”
American Soap Journal and Manufacturing Chemist, 1895.

The Nosegay Of Violets by William Worcester Churchill, 1905.

In 1893, a woman by the name of Margaret Gainer was arrested, charged, and ultimately sentenced to thirty days imprisonment for stealing a bottle of violet perfume from a hairdresser’s shop. The hairdresser had seen her take the bottle and slip it into her pocket, but when he gave her the choice of putting the bottle back or facing the consequences, Miss Gainer steadfastly refused to relinquish the violet perfume. Her motivation for the theft—and her subsequent unwillingness to part with her ill-gotten gains—is not entirely clear; however, I suspect it had more than a little to do with the late Victorian violet fad.[…]Continue Reading

MimiMatthews.com is Moving to a New Website Provider. Don't Get Left Behind!

The Bayswater Omnibus by George William Joy (1855-1925)
The Bayswater Omnibus by George William Joy (1855-1925).

MimiMatthews.com is presently undergoing a complete website redesign. My new website will launch in the next week or two. My web address will be the same, but my entire website is going to look very different. Don’t be alarmed! It’s still me. All the same content will be available to you—including my archive of articles on nineteenth century animals, etiquette, fashion, beauty, and law.[…]Continue Reading

The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Cover Reveal!

Pug Cover Reveal

At long last, I can reveal the beautiful cover of my upcoming book, The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries. It was designed by Dominic Allen at Pen and Sword Books (UK) and features one of my favourite historical pug paintings. I hope you love it as much as I do![…]Continue Reading

Reading Habits and Book Buying Preferences: A Brief and Unscientific Readers' Poll

The Lover’s Letter Box by George Baxter, 1856.

As many of you know, I have several books that will be coming out over the next year. In anticipation of their release, I’d love to learn a little more about your reading habits. I have devised two brief and wholly unscientific poll questions. It will take just a few moments of your time to answer each of them and will help me tremendously in planning for my upcoming releases. […]Continue Reading