A Victorian Wife's Best Friend: The Role of Cats & Dogs in Cases of Spousal Abuse

Her Favourites by John Charlton, 1881.

The nineteenth century news is filled with reports of hero pets rescuing their masters and mistresses from various catastrophes. Dogs routed burglars and saved children from drowning, while cats meowed the alarm when the house was on fire or when a family member had stopped breathing in their bed. Both cats and dogs were also known to intervene in cases of spousal abuse. For a battered Victorian wife, this animal intervention could sometimes mean the difference between life and death. […]Continue Reading

A Few Words on Disappearing Posts…

The Letter by Jan van Beers, 1885.

Some of you may have noticed that my archive of articles on Victorian fashion and beauty has recently become a bit thinner. I know that many of those articles—specifically my Victorian Lady’s Guides and my Visual Guides to Victorian Fashion series—were incredibly popular, so I thought I’d take a brief moment to explain what has happened to them.[…]Continue Reading

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