Nineteenth century breads often called for “a teacup of yeast,” a huge amount compared to today’s recipes. Victorian-era housekeepers (e.g. wives) made their yeast. And continued to whip up fresh batches of yeast (with a touch of the last batch as a starter) well after commercially prepared yeast waited on grocer’s shelves.
In an 1879 essay by Henry Ward Beecher, he persuades all to see that Old Maids may make the best of wives, for their youthful ways often pass right along with their marriageable years. Come mid-twenties, when a woman is an Old Maid, he argues she’s come into her prime of womanhood.
Beecher was, it seems, concerned about appearance.
What about those ladies who are consistently kind, gracious, and pleasant to be with? What of those good girls who finds no fault and never complains. Perhaps this Best Woman did make for the Best Victorian Wives.
A well-known New York Phrenologist gives late-Victorian-era American romance advice. “Blondes are Favorites,” he declared, backing up this observation with Phrenology. Much hymeneal wisdom packed into one interview, contained in the vintage newspaper article that sprang from a newspaperman interviewing the phrenologist. While affable blondes are best, beware of “Women of Genius” (those inclined to education and adopting “masculine” attributes such as self-protection and self-support). Victorian attitudes and perspectives circa 1890 shed much light on cultural norms.
Part of blog series: Who Makes the Best (Victorian) Wives?
While researching dentistry in 1890 for an accurate setting for my title, Isabella’s Calico Groom, I was quite surprised by how advanced and “modern” (by today’s standards) dentistry was. Significant advances in dentistry had occurred in the previous decades, making dentistry truly “modern” compared to patients’ previous experiences. The sheer quantity and magnitude of improvements in dentistry qualify dentists of the 1890s to claim “Modern Dentistry” in their advertisements.
In Part 2 of this blog series, I share 70 newspaper clippings from Victorian America, wherein reports abound that husbands have sold their wives. Prices range from $0.05 (5 cents) to thousands of dollars (US, Victorian). I provided price comparisons, just for impact. Throughout, I provided my opinions regarding TRUTH or JOKE. Ultimately, there had to be some of both. What a bizarre practice!