Writerly Wednesday – Some of the Random stuff I Know About the Victorian and Edwardian Eras

Did you know that

I recently graduated from college and it would be quite the understatement for me to say that I have a lot of feelings to process–nevertheless, we’ll just go with that. One of these emotions is the wonderful feeling of absolute relief. The nature of senior year is that you rush rush rush and then, by the time you settle in enough to breathe and look up at your surroundings, it is completely over. One of the reasons that senior year is so exhausting is the required senior thesis. As an English major, we are required to write a 20-25 page senior thesis. In hindsight, this doesn’t sound too terribly scary since I have written hundreds upon hundreds of pages worth of academic papers.  But, believe me, it is terrifying.

One of these emotions is the wonderful feeling of absolute relief. The nature of senior year is that you rush rush rush and then, by the time you settle in enough to breathe and look up at your surroundings, it is completely over. One of the reasons that senior year is so exhausting is the required senior thesis. As an English major, we are required to write a 20-25 page senior thesis. In hindsight, this doesn’t sound too terribly scary since I have written hundreds upon hundreds of pages worth of academic papers.  But, believe me, it is terrifying.

For my thesis, I chose to study the Neo-Victorian and Steampunk genres. For my own sake (and yours), I will avoid even discussing what my argument was or what the paper itself entailed. Personally, I don’t want to ever think about it again. What I do want to talk about is it all the random things I learned while researching for my thesis. You see, part of my thesis project was writing a novel wherein I represented and combined the two aforementioned genres. In doing so, I learned so much about the Victorian period. Some of which is really weird.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

The Victorians had arsenic in their wallpaper. The arsenic was apparently used to keep the wallpaper color bright and unfaded. Victorians used to get sick and take small trips to the seaside for their health. After a few days away they would get well (because they weren’t unintentionally killing themselves anymore) and then they would return back to their arsenic infested homes. In one instance, a baby actually died from chewing on a piece of wallpaper.

 

The Victorians used to think that very white bread was healthiest and freshest. Don’t ask me why. Bakers use to add plaster, and other chemicals, to their dough to make it whiter in color. What is worse, is that the millers, use to add the same chemicals to their grain to make it last longer. They could make their product go further if it had some additives in it. Add to that the fact that the baker would then also add in chemicals and you have a pretty terrible health situation.

 

The Victorians used to put radium on things to make them glow.They would have working women paint the faces of watches and clocks so that they would glow in the dark and would be easily seen. This was a new fad in the era. It was more or less the equivalent of the glow in the dark star stickers people stick on the ceiling as kids–except, of course, those aren’t dangerous. The girls painting these clocks would often lick the paint brushes they used so that they could make the bristles stick together in a way that made painting the numbers a little easier. In doing so, these girls unintentionally hurt themselves. They ended up with radium jaw. This is already absolutely terrible, but what is worse is that the factories knew that this was a risk and did not tell anyone! Ah! Instead, when their workers began getting ill, they spread rumors that the girls had sexually transmitted diseases. Pretty terrible if you ask me. 

It is absolutely terrifying how much stuff these people were using that they shouldn’t have been. It definitely makes you reconsider what we use in our daily lives. Anyway, this isn’t really a typical Writerly Wednesday. I thought it was some interesting things that I learned while researching for my last novel and thought I’d share.

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.