Category: British History

Madam, Ma’am, or Miss: Proper Address for Unmarried Young Ladies

La Mode, 1836.
(Met Museum)

During the nineteenth century, the proper address for an unmarried young lady was very much a matter of rank—both the rank of the one being addressed and the one doing the addressing. For instance, a maidservant might acknowledge a command given by her young unmarried mistress by saying “Yes, miss.” Whereas a gentleman might address the same unmarried young lady with a “Yes, madam” or “Yes, ma’am.” […]Continue Reading

Interview with Rachel McMillan, author of The London Restoration

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Rachel McMillan’s much-anticipated new novel, The London Restoration. I loved every word of it. The lush descriptions of  post-World War II London. The impeccable sense of time and place. And the romance—as much between the author and the city’s architecture as it is between protagonists, Brent and Diana Somerville, a married couple who must reconnect and rebuild after having each served their country in life-altering ways.[…]Continue Reading

Interview and Giveaway with Historical Fiction author Clarissa Harwood!

It’s release week for Fair as a Star, and I’m thrilled to share it with one of my favorite historical fiction authors, the brilliant Clarissa Harwood. Clarissa’s book Bear No Malice is being released this week in paperback. To celebrate, she’s here with a special interview and giveaway![…]Continue Reading

Ether for Every Occasion: Wedding Nights, Frolics, and Flammable Binges

The First Use of Ether in Dental Surgery By Ernest Board, 1846.
(Wellcome Images, CC BY 4.0)

Derived from ethyl alcohol, ether was a sweet-smelling, colorless liquid that came into medical prominence in the nineteenth century. When vaporized and inhaled, it produced varying degrees of unconsciousness. First employed as a general anesthetic by American doctors in the 1840s, its popularity quickly spread to Victorian England. But ether wasn’t only used during surgeries. It was also used recreationally, as well as to address myriad calamities of life in ways that ranged from the mundane to the outright creepy.[…]Continue Reading

The Value of An Introduction: Vouching for Someone Victorian-Style

Le Follet, 1848.
(Met Museum)

Today, introducing one stranger to another at a social or business gathering is simply polite behavior. But in the Victorian era, an introduction was a thing of infinite value. It was a voucher. A guarantee that the person being introduced was both respectable and worthy of knowing. As Mrs. Walter Houghton explains in her 1893 book Rules of Etiquette & Home Culture:[…]Continue Reading

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