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The weekend reading of a Victorian family

January 22, 2011

Visiting my brother-in-law recently, I spent a happy half hour browsing through the old family books in the Nursery. Several generations of small children have enjoyed playing in this sunny upstairs room. Their literary tastes have changed a good deal, however. I am not convinced that this late nineteenth century thriller would keep our own children absorbed for long:

What a page-turner that must be, eh?

As for the books for grown-ups, I thought that this offering from 1868 looked electrifying.

Freaks on the fells – illustrated!

Alas, the first few sentences were so turgid that I never did get far enough to discover the freaks.  I suspect that the front page is the best of all: better to leave the contents to the fevered imagination.

The mind boggles.


See also: You shall have a fishy…

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Alison permalink
    January 22, 2011 6:08 pm

    Life now is so much more immediate. We still enjoy Stevenson, but then again, they are abridged and as audio-books. I wonder how long it would take to plod through the “porridge prose” to reach the excitement? I often wonder if I need to drop a gear and spend a little time living life at the pace of the 19th Century….

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 25, 2011 12:46 pm

      Indeed, looking through the contents of the library, the games room, the gun room and so on here, I am often struck by just how much leisure time the family must have had in the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras. And without the distractions of computers (Q.E.D.!) and TV and phones and so forth, I think that life must have been more measured. It’s rather appealing – although in imagining the past, we never like to think of ourselves as the poor scullery maid, up in the icy blackness before dawn, lugging coal and lighting fires!

  2. Margaret Lambert permalink
    January 22, 2011 6:41 pm

    I hadn’t noticed before how much some of the nineteenth century book bindings would have duplicated the design of the bookcases themselves. The design of “Freaks on the Fells” could have been incised in the wood of walnut Eastlake style library furnishings.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 25, 2011 12:47 pm

      How interesting. You have sent me in search of the Eastlake style, which I didn’t know about before.

  3. Jessica permalink
    January 23, 2011 1:00 am

    They just don’t write them like they used to! Wonder why?

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 25, 2011 12:47 pm

      Possibly because the authors bored themselves to death?! 😀

  4. January 23, 2011 12:17 pm

    ooo the good ol’ days 😉

  5. January 23, 2011 4:34 pm

    I find Victorian children’s book rather intimidating looking and frightening. But love the designs on the covers! Interesting that Margaret noticed the similarity to [Eastlake] furniture – I hadn’t thought of that, but ’tis true!

  6. January 24, 2011 5:36 pm

    These are brilliant! Love, love, love them. One can only wonder what caused the author to think ‘I know, to day I will sit down and write about…’. The mind does indeed boggle, thanks for sharing!

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      January 25, 2011 12:48 pm

      Glad you enjoyed them. There are more which I plan to share on a quiet news day, though possibly not as mad as this lot.

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