Picnics were a common and notable diversion for Victorian Americans whenever weather permitted. Schools, churches, families, and organizations hosted picnics. Reasons varied from welcome-home parties to gatherings to hear a speaker or minster to holiday celebrations. This article contains recommendations for preparing and transporting picnic foods properly, protecting young ladies from harm (let’s keep those chaperones in place!), and a peek inside my new release Courting Miss Cartwright–specifically the picnic basket auction scene.
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.
19th Century young ladies (and gentlemen) learned a great deal about etiquette from their mothers, finishing schools, and from the societal expectations around them. The true art of conversation was a significant skill taught and expected within society, whether Philadelphia’s Old Money or the rural frontier. After all, conversation was a key element of an evening’s entertainment, courtship, and the Victorian Era’s social expectations.
The ritual of courtship in the days of the American Old West is very different from today’s dating. Courtship used to always mean an intention to marry–if the couple found they were indeed as compatible as they believed. Courtship followed specific rules and standards, even in the less-than-stuffy western territories and states. I provide a list of courtship rituals that are an intrinsic part of the fabric of the American West history.