The Art of Courtship: Vintage wisdom relayed from the mid-nineteenth century to a newspaperman thirty years later (in 1887) sheds light on choosing a wife, beginning a courtship, different types of girls (shy, coquette [flirt], “vidders” [widows], and old maids, etc.). Victorian attitudes are prevalent, including the general idea that the sick and infirm aren’t suitable to marriage (think of the children!). Everything you wished your great-great grandpa had told you about courting… and more.
One hundred and thirty-seven years ago, today, was May 21, 1880. Three newspapers (two from Kansas and one from Louisiana) covered three timely subjects–two of which surprised me deeply. One–Leap Year–I knew about and had become comfortable with. But wait until you see the other two. Technology in 1880 was far more advanced than I realized…you might be equally surprised.
In 1893, expectations surrounding courtship made it improper for a couple to show affection for one another in public. Baltimore apparently outlawed simple signs of affection in their city parks, raising the alarm in New York City where Central Park was a key location for courting couples to go about their courtship (which included simple things like sitting on a bench together, a man’s arm about his sweetheart’s waist). This article includes a newspaperman’s interview with two different Central Park policemen, one who favored strict laws prohibiting such displays of affection and one who was most tolerant. Step back in time and enjoy an entire vintage newspaper article and historic images of Central Park in the late 19th century.
The first spark of an idea for my new release (Courting Miss Cartwright) came from The Reverend George W. Hudson 1883 book: The Marriage Guide for Young Men: A Manual of Courtship and Marriage. While this “self help” book is now in the public domain, I don’t quote the book directly; I used it as a springboard, a frame of reference, as the ideas, attitudes, and advice expressed within it are common within the latter Victorian-era. I share a segment of Hudson’s book as this true-to-life argument for methodically choosing the right woman to fall in love with becomes a major part of my new novella. Courting Miss Cartwright will debut in three days (7-30-16) within the Western Historical Romance Boxed Set Cowboys & Calico.
InÂ my recent post about The Proper (and safe) Way to Terminate a Victorian American Courtship because we all know the threat of a suit of Breach of Promise was too great, a quote by the Reverend George W. Hudson in his 1883 book sounded rather scandalous. The good reverend actually said “making love”–and he didn’t mean in a sexual way. It’s essential to note that the term had a very different meaning in the 19th Century and early 20th Century than it does now.