Victorian Americans needed ice–for home use, through delivery businesses, on a commercial scale (to keep food from spoiling at the grocery and in railroad transportation). Ice houses were built all over the United States from the independent family’s ice house on their property to the enormous commercial Swift & Co. Ice House storing 60,000 tons annually. Ice harvesting occurred in January and February and kept in storage facilities until the following winter by applying ingenuity, science, and hard work. Men used saws, horse-drawn sleighs, and the strength of their own backs to harvest the cash crop each winter. This article contains vintage photographs, newspaper ads, and science info of the Victorian era.
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.
“A cross between guidebook and social commentary, The Spinster Book gives clever and humorous insights on topics such as courting, handling men and women, love letters, marriage and spinsterhood.” I share one of the book’s vignettes on men; how they compare to cats…and a most successful way (for a Victorian lady, at least) to win a man’s heart, an invitation to a live theater or opera production, and his undying adoration. The book was published in 1901. The author (Myrtle Reed)’s sense of humor shines through, and sheds more than a little light on Victorian attitudes about courtship.
We’ve seen the financial, legal, and emotional costs of a courtship gone wrong and culminating in a suit for breach of promise. In Victorian America, where such a consequence was possible if not common enough (to scare a young swain or two), advice of how to break up an unhealthy courtship–or cancel a planned wedding–must have been given by mothers, fathers, society matrons, and “Dear Abby’s” of the day. Indeed they did! This article includes quotes from 3 era-specific books published during the time period.