Ask Evangeline

For inquiries about the Edwardian era, or for more extensive and intensive research, please submit a project brief to my research consulting firm, The Blue Stockings Society.

Here is the link to the old “Ask Evangeline” post, now closed.

68 thoughts on “Ask Evangeline”

  1. I have a question-how long would it have taken to learn to drive a car or a lorry in the Edwardian era, given the then roads and also the almost complete lack of traffic on them?

  2. Dear Evangeline,

    Could you possibly provide me with some information? I am currently reading a biography about Elsie de Wolfe, Lady Mendl and in reading about her presentation at the court of Queen Victoria during the London season of… I forget exactly but during the teens or twenties I think, I became interested in knowing more about the debutante season per se. Traditionally,how many seasons were/are there?: London, New York ….any others? And most importantly, I would like to know what the dates of these seasons were. From what month to what month, in other words. This is probably very simple information but perhaps because of its very fundamental nature, I can’t find it anywhere. I’d be much obliged if you could provide it.
    Thank you,
    Miss Lindstrom

    1. Hi Miss Lindstrom,

      Traditionally, the London season was the one to which everyone flocked to. I discussed this here and list the calendar here. The New York Season, which gained prominence in the 1880s, was discussed here. I plan to discuss the Paris season very soon, and possibly Rome, St Petersburg, Vienna, and Berlin, but the Paris season was the next most important event to attend after London and New York. The Paris season was held concurrently with the London Season. Because Austria-Hungary, Prussia/Germany, and Italy were religious countries, their seasons took place in the early winter (December) and lasted until Lent. And yes, it’s somewhat difficult to find this information, especially for non-English speaking countries, but I’ve learned to seek materials pertaining to authors who wrote about society in a particular country. For example, if you want to know about Parisian high society of the 1890s-1920s, look up any analysis or book about Marcel Proust. And for Berlin, Daisy, Princess of Pless is an invaluable resource!

  3. Hi Evangeline,
    I wondered iof you could possible help me with the answer to a couple of questions, I was certain I read the answer to the first a while ago on your website but I don’t seem able to find it again. Could you tell me where in London the ‘fairly well off’ (not exactly aristocracy) would have lived in that period (turn of the century). The second question where would an upmarket shop have been located and would it have had living accomodation for the owner(s)

    Thank you

    Tee

    1. Hi Tee, the upper-middle classes (not quite aristocracy) lived in the West End, which included Paddington, Kensington, West Brompton, Bayswater, and Notting Hill. Click here for a map of the area in 1905.

      As for the second question, I would think that there were living accommodations for shop owners. For a description of London’s shopping areas, I direct you to this file I’ve uploaded to site. Right-click and download from this link.

      1. Thank you so much for this speedy and completely helpful reply. I couldn’t have received more helpul information, thanks again

        Tee

  4. Hello,

    I am trying to figure out what the status and treatment of a family solicitor’s female secretary would be at an Edwardian peer’s country house (c. 1909). From period literature and etiquette guides I am assuming that the solicitor would be invited to eat with the family and would be treated as a guest, if not a highly placed one. I cannot figure out how the solicitor’s secretary, a single working woman, would be treated. She is not a servant so I am assuming she would not be treated the same as a visitor’s lady’s maid or valet. She would not sleep in servant’s quarters or eat with the servants. But I cannot see her being invited to eat with the family or sleep in the guest rooms. The best I can see is that she might be treated the same as a governess or tutor – sleeping in a small, out of the way room and eating separate from the family or the servants.

    Any suggestions on places to look? I have tried Manners and Rules of Good Society as well as several web resources. I can find lots on the care and feeding of guests at country houses, including mentions of the precedence of legal professionals, and of servants, but nothing on how non-servant support staff might be treated.

    1. Hi Thomas! Your female stenographer would most likely be treated as a governess or tutor–tray in her own room, and all that–because while she wasn’t a servant, she was still in the employ of a social superior. As for sleeping quarters, she would more likely than not be placed in the wing created for unmarried female guests.

  5. Hi Evangeline

    I wondered if you could help me again? I am trying to find out what the salary of the upper classes would have been annually; for example a Barrister at the turn of the century, I believe a footman would have earnt around £1500 a year but can find out little about the aristocracy, am I barking up the wrong tree would they have just been independantly wealthy.

    Thank you for your help

    Tee

    1. Hi Tee,

      Here is what I found in an article written by a NY lawyer in 1914:

      In England, practitioners of the law, whether solicitors or barristers, regulate their fees almost entirely on this basis. The importance of the business involved necessarily affects the amount of the fees charged, but. generally speaking, solicitors have a definite and well-regulated scale of charges for the various items of service, to which the approval of their law societies and long-established custom obliges them to conform.

      To us a solicitor’s fee bill is a curiosity, as it is made up of separate items, such as ” writing a letter,” ” having a consultation,” etc., very much the same as a grocer’s bill would be made up, the total of the items constituting the customary fee. The barrister, on the other hand, proceeds upon a different basis. His fee is regarded as a honorarium. When a solicitor sends a brief in a case to be tried, it is accompanied by a retainer, and there is marked upon the brief the per diem fee.

      Of course the nature of the business and the standing of the barrister have everything to do with the fixing of the fee. The amount of the per diem fee differs widely between those who are juniors and the seniors—the latter being those who have graduated from the ranks of the juniors and have ” taken silk ” with preferment sometimes as King’s Counsel. The per diem fee varies from one guinea to the junior to appear in court as a matter of form, and the two hundred guinea King’s Counsel, who is constantly employed in matters of the greatest importance.

      The barrister sometimes also receives another fee, called a ” refresher,” which in the course of a protracted litigation is supposed to refresh his drooping energies and stimulate his activity. It is undoubtedly true that barristers in large practice receive, and I hope earn, very large incomes, averaging during a series of years $100,000 or more, not differing, generally speaking, from those of lawyers of equal prominence at our own bar.

      If you’d like a better understanding of how barristers, solicitors, etc worked, “A Philadelphia Lawyer in the London Courts” is an excellent resource.

    2. From what I have been reading, though none are authoritative sources, a footman in 1900 might make £20-35 per year. A butler might make £30-50 per year. And a chef, usually the highest paid servant in a big house, might make as much as £60 per year. This does not include tips and other perks.

      Lawyers and other professionals would have made more. Anthony Trollope, in his North America travel guide said that in 1862 “The salary of the Chief Justice of the United States is only £1300 per year.” In 1855 the Warden (a clerical Trollope character) had the munificent living of £800 per year.

      A period legal example is Sir Rigby Philip Watson Swift who was earning £3000 per year in 1904 as a 26 year old barrister. He was very successful and was made a King’s Counsel in 1912. His work continued to increase, and by 1916 he was earning £10,000 per year. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigby_Swift]

      Lawyers would have made £400-£5000 per year at the turn of the century. Particularly successful ones could have made significantly more.

      For aristocrats income came from two basic sources – farm income (either from directly farming their land or form tenet rents) and investment income. They also head great expenses and often crushing debt. Characters from the peerage and gentry in period literature would often have annual incomes of £2000-£20,000. Particularly wealthy ones might have incomes of £40,000-£80,000 per year.

      Historical examples include Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Burdett-Coutts who in 1837 she became the wealthiest woman in England when she inherited her grandfather’s fortune of nearly three million pounds (£120,000 per year at a 4% return) and Hannah de Rothschild, who in 1874 became the wealthiest woman in England when she inherited many great estates and more than two million pounds in cash (£80,000 per year at a 4% return).

      1. I love it Thomas! Thanks for adding to the conversation. I actually found a book the detailed the acreage owned and the worth of the properties owned by British aristocrats and landed gentry in the 1880s. I was greatly surprised by the incomes of many peers–which I guess is why so many married American heiresses! Read it here.

        1. Thanks! I love period references.

          Peers’ incomes may have been impressive, but so were their expenses and their debts. Some great houses of the period might take hundreds of thousands of pounds to renovate or to build. The Duke of Marlborough is listed in the book you reference as having £36,500 p.a. but the expenses were such that the family was almost broke before they started marrying American heiresses. Consuelo Vanderbilt brought more than $2,000,000 as a dowry in 1896, but it was not enough to get the family completely out of trouble.

          Even entertaining could stretch their budgets to the breaking point. Sir Christopher Sykes (of Brantingham Thorpe) is listed in the book you reference as having an income of £4500 p.a. But he almost declared bankruptcy in 1890 after hosting the Prince of Wales numerous times at his country house.

          For fiction think of categories of wealthy – Rich = £2000+ p.a., Very Rich = £20,000+ p.a., Stinking Filthy Rich = £80,000+ p.a., The Richest = £200,000+ p.a. Don’t forget the popular category of Land Rich and Cash Poor.

  6. A fine article on the American girls hounting Europe.
    In those days, a poem was published (in Punch?) which drew a picture of the American girl. It had a wonderful cadenz, her manners and spirit were described, there was a father at home and it ended somehow with the wish “to find her coronet”.
    Despite an hour searching on Google I have not found it. Do you recognize it ?
    thanks

    The poem goes like this, with text made up:

    tarAtarAtarAtarA tattAttattAttadAda
    tarAtarAtarAtarA tattAttattAttadA
    tarAtarAtarAtarA tattAttattAttadAda
    tarAtarAtarAtarA tattAttattAttadA

    She finds a man who does not drink infinitely disarming
    But rather sees his mother go and step out of the way

    etc.

  7. Simple question. If a British lady was traveling abroad on a ship with clothing and equipment (collecting specimens)in 1910, would it be luggage, suitcase, trunks or chest?

    Luggage sounds a bit to modern to use.

  8. Hi Evangeline,
    After my Grandmother passed away last year we cleared out her attick in her London home and found several letters and ‘household accounts’ from her side of the family. One book dated 1904-5 states as income £ 29,800 and under household staff were listed 1 chef, 1 cook, 1 scullery maid, 1 butler, 4 footman,1 valet, a housekeeper, 4 maids,1 laundry maid, 1 governess, 1 nanny, a wet nurse,1 tutor, 1 chauffeur,1 estate manager, head gardener, 2 under gardeners, a gamekeeper, 2 grooms. This seems an awful lot of staff to me? Was £ 29,800 worth a lot in those times to afford such an amount of domestic staff? Unfortunately I can’t read much of the details due to water damage, but as residue it still gives £ 3,652 and some shillings at year end. I know that my grandmother came from an aristocratic backround but unfortunately know nothing more in relation to this era.

    1. Hi Thomas,

      What a find! And that was quite a large staff for the period: 4 footmen–at £20-40 a year apiece–were expensive in salary and in tax! £29,800 was indeed a nice income for that period, particularly if you could afford to live in London. I would highly recommend Juliet Gardiner’s The Edwardian Country House and its accompanying mini-series, “Edwardian Country House” if you’d like a great overview of the Edwardian era.

  9. Hi Evangeline,

    I have 2 questions.

    1) What would the education of a girl be like if she was born in 1894 to upper class in America? What age would she go to finishing school and how long would she stay there? What would she learn?

    2) What would her debut be like? Would she be at a ball with other debutantes? What age would this occur at? I have read mostly 16, but then I have heard a few people say it was age 18.

    Please reply if you can, but I know you are probably be busy with a lot of things so you can reply as late as you’d like.

    Jen

    1. Hi Jen!

      1) By upper-class I suppose you mean the super rich of the period. Since denizens of “The Four Hundred” and social circles like this in other major cities copied the English aristocracy, it was rare for a girl to receive a formal education (though, by the 1910s, schools like Miss Porter’s became a trifle acceptable for upper class young women). She would most likely have a governess, just like the daughters of English dukes and earls. She’d be taught a few languages (French and German), basic mathematics, some science, a little history, maybe politics, but mostly, she was being bred to be a society hostess and a wife. You must remember: formal education for women was feared and made fun of, and the finishing schools and colleges favored by upper crust women today, were largely populated by middle and upper middle class young women prior to the 1930s.

      2) I wrote a post about this, La jeune fille à marier, which I hope answers all of your questions.

      Regards!

      Evangeline

  10. Dear Evangeline,
    I’m writing a historical young adult novel set in the Edwardian era. My question concerns fashion for teenagers. I have a really great book called Victorian and Edwardian Fashion, A Photographic Survey, by Alison Gernsheim. It’s a great book but it’s lacking info about teens.

    I understand that an Edwardian teenaged girl would have lengthened her skirts and put her hair up just before her ‘coming out.’ What I need to know is how long were her skits prior to this? Knee length? Ankle length? And what sort of style was the dress? My character is an upper class, 18-year-old. Her new lady’s maid is sorting out her wardrobe at the moment so I need to know what my character would have in it.

    My character also just came home from finishing school, so I’m assuming she would have worn a uniform?

    Thanks!

    Sharon

    1. Hi Sharon,

      I just looked at a fashion book I have and it looks as though young girls’ skirts lengthened as they aged. A girl on the cusp of her debut would have skirts that hit an inch or two above the ankle.

  11. Super! That’s kind of what I thought but I wasn’t too sure. I’m assuming these clothes would be high necked blouses, flounced skirts, pastel colors? I think the sailor outfits would have been more Victorian.

    What book do you have? I’m a sucker for anything Edwardian, especially fashion.

    Thanks so much. That helped a lot!

    Sharon

    1. Pastel colors, yes, but only until 1910 or so, when stronger colors like bright yellow, deep blues, greens, etc were popular. And don’t forget: clothing for children and teenagers were usually less elaborate versions of their parents’ clothing. So a teenage girl would wear a shirtwaist like her mother, but the teenage version would have less decorative sewing (tucks, pins, ruching, etc). And I have the books written by JoAnn Olian, published by Dover Publications.

      1. Hi Evangeline,

        Another fashion question for you. What sort of undergarment would a woman wear under a tailormade? My character hates the S bend corset so I wonder if there’s another option for her or if the corset was changing? My year is 1909.

        Thanks again!

        Sharon

          1. Hooray! I was hoping that was the case. Her new lady’s maid is very trendy so I wanted her to suggest another type of garment.

            Why were those corsets so long? I’m trying to imagine what they would have done for the legs.

            I ordered that book you suggested. Can’t wait until it gets here. I’m a sucker for books about the Edwardian era. Even if I only use a book for a small detail it’s worth it.

            Sharon

  12. Greetings,

    I have what I hope is a fairly simple question; though one I cannot find a ready answer for – What is the likelihood that a Victorian Duke would be a justice of the peace or magistrate? When the Old Duke dies in 1909, what is the likelihood that his 21 year old heir, with no legal training, would take over his magisterial duties?

    I am looking for some accessible references on the role of the British aristocracy in the legal system in late Victorian and Edwardian times, specifically the justice of the peace system. I assume the fictitious Old Duke would likely have been a magistrate in his country seat. I am curious if that role, or at least the expectation to fulfill that role, would devolve on his heir automatically. Any help you might be able to offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Thomas,

      Your question is very involved! What I could find was that a magistrate position didn’t require any formal training–even today anyone can be a magistrate. As for any sources on this topic, the only ones I could find were in academic journals, for which you must pay. Here is an article I believe is relevant.

  13. Dear Evageline,

    I am writer currently working on a scene that is inspired by the Edwardian era. The gentlemen have adjourned to the smoking room after dinner. They are gambling at cards while enjoying their tobacco and drinks. Being a somewhat respectable lot with a slight roguish air what card game would they play? I know in the American West the wagering card game was predominately versions of poker. However, I’m not sure what the gentlemen of means played in similar situations.

    Thanks for your help,

    Mary Louise

      1. Excellent!

        What form of Baccarat was played? I was under the impression that Punto Blanco (the James Bond Baccarat) was the more modern simplified version and Chemin de Fer or Banque were the older verisons. What verison would have been popular then?

        Did Bertie continue to play Baccarat after the Baccarat scandal of 1890? Did this diminish the popularity in any way or only increase the allure of the illegal game?

        1. Both Banque and Chemin de Fer were popular, but the latter had higher stakes for great wins and heavy losses. Iknow Bertie didn’t touch the game as readily as he did before the Tranby Croft scandal, but it was a staple at casinos, and he loved to gamble on the Continent (Monte Carlo, Biarritz, etc).

  14. Dear Evangeline,

    What a fabulous site! A friend pointed me here, as I’ve hit a stumbling block in a bit of research.

    I am looking for the name of a device, quite possibly used as a Victorian toy. It’s round, with a candle in the center. The outer ring would be simple cut out figures, and with the candle lit, shadow forms are thrown onto walls. The entire thing would spin as well. (You can see such an item in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, briefly.)

    Any thoughts?

  15. Hi Evangeline,
    I am an English teacher in NZ, and I’m planning on teaching some short stories by Katherine Mansfield (a New Zealand writer 1888-1923). The stories are from the perspective of young & teenage girls – one entitled “her first ball”. I know that the Mansfield family were middle class, and the girls attended Wellington Girls College, before going to England to finish their education at Queen’s College.
    What I am looking for is some general information on what life would have been like for a teenage girl in this era – what would have been expected of her, what were the rules of etiquette etc? Do you know of any good resources on the web? I’ve been searching for ages, and your site is the most user-friendly I’ve come across.
    Thanks and regards,
    Charlotte

    1. Hi Charlotte,

      I’ve written extensively about the expectations of young women here, and of life in the Colonies & Commonwealth here. However, as with women today, their lives varied depending on the social status, prominence, and/or wealth of her family. Since Katherine Mansfield grew up in New Zealand, was of a middle-class background, and pursued higher education, as well as a literary life, her experiences were similar, but a bit different from the typical English middle-class girl. I would say that she was expected to marry and become a mother, but free of the duties an aristocratic girl (that is, marrying a man of similar rank and having male heirs), a young woman of Mansfield’s background wouldn’t be pressured to marry right out of the schoolroom. I would recommend Gwen Raverat’s memoirs as an excellent resource for understanding the life of an educated, middle-class young woman of the period.

  16. Hi Evangeline,

    I am delighted to have discovered your site! I wonder if you can help at all with a couple of questions I have about the era (no rush for reply, it seems like you are a busy bee):

    I’m interested in finding out about journalism methods in the Edwardian period – while I’ve managed to find a few books on the history of Fleet Street they tend to be more focused on the content of the press during the period, whereas I am interested to learn about the mechanics, i.e.

    1) any suggestions of brands of British typewriter used in around 1910?
    2) do you know how newspapers were given as proofs to the editors?
    3) any idea how widespread use of the telephone was by 1910? Or indeed telegraphs, marconigrams (these are things I have heard of but don’t really understand what they are)?

    If you know of any good books that might go into this sort of thing in detail I would be so grateful.
    Best wishes
    Lucy

    1. Hi Lucy! I’ll try my best to steer you to the answers you desire!

      1) any suggestions of brands of British typewriter used in around 1910?
      The Remington typewriter, Oliver Typewriter (visible), and Blickensderfer Typewriter (portable) were considered the most popular and reliable of the period.
      2) do you know how newspapers were given as proofs to the editors?
      According to Newspaper Editing (1915): “In the newspaper office, the first galley proof is corrected by professional proofreaders, or by members of the editorial staff if the paper is a small one. After the revise, a proof of each galley is sent to the managing editor, so that he can look over the day’s edition before press time; another is sent to the news editor or make-up man to be used in making up the pages. After the final revise of the galleys, no further proofs are taken until the type has been placed in the forms of the printed pages. A form proof is then usually pulled for a survey of the makeup and the catching of any mixing of type or articles in the making-up. The only real proofreading done in the newspaper office is concerned with the galley proofs. But every newspaper worker should know how to correct proof quickly and accurately, for only ‘ the largest offices afford professional proofreaders. When they do, the proofreaders are members of the mechanical force, rather than the editorial staff; in fact, they are usually members of the typographical union.”
      3) any idea how widespread use of the telephone was by 1910? Or indeed telegraphs, marconigrams (these are things I have heard of but don’t really understand what they are)
      The telephone was used mostly in dense, urban areas. It was quite rare in rural England, though a bit more prevalent in rural America. Telegraphs (or telegram) was very common. It was the only way to send information quickly from one area to another. Marconigrams, or radiogram, was more common after 1911.

      If you’d like more information, I recommend Fleet Street from Within, Journalism for Women, and A Window in Fleet Street–all easily discovered on Google Books.

      1. You are an absolute guru!!!! Thank you so much. I am in awe of how you manage to amass all this knowledge. 🙂

  17. Hi Evangeline, I love your site! I was also recommended here by Jane Austen’s World. I have one Edwardian question:

    1. Do you have any info about the dinnerware that was shown in the television series “Downton Abbey”?

    But I’m also curious about the gambling chips, dice, etc shown in the 2006 film, “Marie Antoinette” but I’m not sure who to ask. Any info would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

    1. Hi Karen,

      Do you mean their functions? If yes, I refer to a post from 2009 entitled “Setting the Table.” If you are curious about their make, Edwardian cutlery could be purchased from places such as Asprey & Co, Holtzsaffel & Co, etc; and china/glass from Osler or Mortlocks Ltd, etc. Though technically, the china, glassware, and cutlery used by the Crawleys would have been in their family for a number of generations!

      As for questions about Marie Antoinette, I refer you to Lauren of Marie-Antoinette’s Gossip Guide!

  18. I am looking for information/sites that would address how to adapt Victorian/Edwardian or even Regency clothes into daily life. I am not interested in extra lace, ruffles, parasols, etc., or in costumey looks. I am more interested in the cut, overall style and especially the elegance. So far all I have discerned is shirtwaist dressing: white blouse, fitted, flared skirt and a jacket. I love the jacket that Lizzie Bennet wore when she met Mr. Darcy out in the field that romantic morning….an elongated Spencer jacket, I think it was a man’s. Oh of only hats and other elegant accessories would come into fashion, so that one would not draw stares if dressing in a polished manner. Another look I like is the “jumper” such as worn by Anne Hathaway in “Becoming Jane”. Do you have any ideas that are budget friendly or would not require advanced sewing skills?

    I love your site. I love all things Edwardian and through the new Georgian (George V and VI) and I adored Mary of Teck although she kept her fringe and her monster hats – because, by the way, her “soveriegn/husband” would not allow her to explore the new fashions – which looked like bags, in my opinion.

    Thanks.
    Karen

    1. Hi Karen,

      I don’t know of any people who adapt Regency or Victorian/Edwardian era clothing to real life, but I do know of many vintage aficionados who either adapt or actually wear fashions of the first half of the 20th century for everyday life: Fleur de Guerre, Solanah, Liebemarlene, and Carol, to name a few. They are very inspirational (I’m dipping my toe into dressing vintage after growing frustrated by shopping in malls!), and give me a lot of reasons for stepping out and wearing what I like!

  19. hello!
    I need to know just a few main points of a teenagers life in the Edwardian era. I am doing school homework on the life in the Edwardian era and would love your help and what information you have on positive things in a teenagers life in that time. I have some negative points already.

  20. Hi There!
    I’m currently pinning a small pictorial album on Lady Mary Curzon, and I was just wondering if I could reference a few of your wonderful blogs for my book. Thanks for your time.

    ~ A.N. Stone

  21. Could you recomend any book dealing with the French aristocracy. Really looking for one that includes things on the social season, ettiquette and what aristocratic and society ladies did

  22. Dear Evangeline,

    I have reason to believe that my great-great-aunt’s husband was the illegitimate son of Rosamond Fetherston-Dilke, who was cited in the scandalous Aylesford v Aylesford divorce case of 1878. Is anything known of her whereabouts between 1878 and her remarriage in 1887?

    Thanks!

    Julia

    1. Hi Julia,

      I have no idea! However, I suggest you look for her personal papers or those of her family and friends stored in the archives of Universities and/or museums. Here’s a link to possibly get you started on your search!

  23. Evangeline,
    Firstly I have to say I think this is an excellent website. A have many questions, however I will post a few at a time so as not to overwhelm you! I am currently in the early stages of a novel set in 1911-1920 and would welcome any advice you could give.

    I am eager to know more about Edwardian working class etiquette? Was there such a thing? I can only seem to find articles relating to the upper and middle classes.

    Would it be appropriate for a working class man to marry a lower-middle class woman (daughter of a shop owner?)

    Were lower class males generally promiscuous?

    What was the age of consent in Edwardian times? Was it adhered to by the working class? Did they often have sex before marriage?

    Would an Edwardian girl also get ready to ‘come-out’ if she was of the lower classes?

    What was the earliest a girl could get married, and did she have to have the blessing of both parents? Was it considered unsavoury to marry somebody against the wishes of her parents?

    Would middle-class parents have a particular man in mind for their daughter to marry and would she be expected to go along with this?

    What would the working class do for courting? Where would the men take the women?

    In slum housing, where would couples find the space for ‘special time’ when they already have a house full of other family members?

    Many thanks for any help you can give!
    Claire

    1. Hi Claire! Thanks for stopping by–I do hope my answers are satisfactory!

      1) Working class etiquette: There wouldn’t be any books on etiquette for the working classes because they did not have public/social lives to maintain. The purpose of etiquette (aka do’s and dont’s) was to mark who was in a certain social circle and who was not. Since the working class was at the bottom of the totem pole, they shunned only those they were personally prejudiced against (i.e. Jews, Catholics, Chinese, Swedes, etc).

      2) It wouldn’t be inappropriate, but the main concern would be where did she meet this working class man? The wives and daughters of shopkeepers were generally behind closed doors and only the men interacted with the public.

      3) I would say that lower class men were less promiscuous than men of higher classes. They more also inclined to believe in the madonna/whore complex than aristocratic males. Ergo, they tended to be less promiscuous, and their small salaries would have only allowed them access to the lowest (and most likely diseased) prostitutes.

      4) The age of consent was 13. Premarital sex would have been difficult to achieve due to the close family quarters and the constant work, but it wasn’t impossible or unheard of.

      5) No. Men and women of the lower classes fell in love and married when they felt financially and emotionally ready for that step.

      6) A woman could marry at 15 or 16. Elopements were not illegal, but chances were, if your parents disapproved, it was a sign that the match was imprudent.

      7) It depends upon the family. Some were lenient and allowed their daughters to choose their spouses, and some were autocratic and controlling.

      8) They would “walk out”–meaning, take walks on a date. If they lived in the country, there were plenty of places to walk. In the city, they could around 1911-1920, see a film or a play, or eat at a pub.

      9) Most of the time, couples would have sex regardless of a full house. They literally could not afford to be squeamish or embarrassed.

  24. Hi Evangeline,

    Firstly I’d just like to say thank you for putting this amazing site together! The articles are so clear and informative and this has been like a treasure trove of information for me!

    I was just wondering if you could answer a couple of questions I have about this period as research for a novel I’m working on…

    1) If a girl just making her debut greatly offended the daughter of a very prominent member of high society, would she be “blacklisted” from other events during the season and to what extent would her reputation be ruined? (Character in question slaps this girl in a public setting!).

    2) Would a fashionable and very wealthy earl spend most of his time in London or in the country once married – or did it vary?

    3) Would the children of a prominent (and wealthy) barrister who is a member of the House of Lords (a baron) grow up in the country like much of the upper-class or would they live in London? Or does it vary? If London, which areas would they be likely to live?

    4) Would it be odd for a young, unmarried woman to temporarily move into the household of an ill, married cousin to try aid in her recovery?

    Thanks again!

    Lily

    1. Hi Lily,

      Thank you for the compliment!

      1) Both girls would be reprimanded and most likely sent home. Good manners called for never raising offence or insulting another, and definitely never reacting to an insult or offence.

      2) It varied. Some aristocrats never went to town (London). However, most aristocratic men divided their time between politics and sport, and the London season and other social events enjoyed by women were built around this.

      3) They were likely raised just as the children of a peer would be raised–though, a barrister and MP was likely to be richer than the peer. And anyone with pretensions to entering High Society owned a country manor or some size. In London they would live in Mayfair, Belgravia, or Pimlico–it really depended upon their income and the sort of house they wanted.

      4) No, particularly if she and the cousin were close friends.

  25. Thanks, Evangeline!

    Re the first question – would it be likely that she would be ostracised for a while after such an action? Or find it difficult to make a good marriage, especially if people were already prejudiced against her due to a mother of ill repute?

    Sorry for all the questions!

    Lily

    1. No problem Lily!

      If her mother’s reputation was bad, your heroine wouldn’t be likely to receive invitations to the choicest events unless she had powerful relatives willing to take her under their wing. Think Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove: her aunt sponsored her admittance into high society despite her father being a lower-class opium addict, but Kate was always on her P’s and Q’s. Is your heroine rich or an heiress? That would help smooth her family’s antecedents as well as powerful relations.

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