19th c. NONFICTION
(aka true things written by Victorians/Edwardians)
- A Year With a Whaler (1913) by Walter Noble Burns - Memoirs of an early twentieth-century whaleman. Warning: super racist.
- The Engineer (1856-1984) - Technical magazine for engineers of all kinds. Link goes to Grace's Guide, which has a free downloadable archive. Invaluable for industrial story research.
- Manners and Tone of Good Society (1872) by A Member of the Aristocracy - Wanna host a genuine Victorian dinner party? Curious about card-leaving? Need to know how to introduce a baronet to a viscount? This is the book for you.
- My Days and Dreams (1916) by Edward Carpenter - Memoirs of Victorian Socialist and gay rights activist Edward Carpenter. Behold this charming photo of him and his life partner, George Merrill.
- Sins of the Cities of the Plain: Confessions of a Mary-Ann (1881) - Supposedly the memoirs of an actual male prostitute, Jack Saul. Probably just topical pornography. Either way, it’s an authentically Victorian piece, written in the time period by people who lived there and then.
- Whalemen's Shipping List (1843-1914) - Newspaper for whaling captains and others with interests in the whaling industry. The link goes to a free downloadable .pdf archive; enjoy.
19th c. FICTION
(aka pretend things written by Victorians)
- Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) by Mary Elizabeth Braddon - A lazy lawyer moves heaven and earth to solve his boyfriend’s murder.
- Maurice (written 1913–1914, pub. 1971) by E. M. Forster - The titular character would be a perfect middle class Edwardian Englishman were it not for his pesky homosexuality. Watch in wonder as he explains cricket and finds love. The novel itself wasn’t published until the 1970s, so it’s still in copyright despite being written far earlier.
- Moby-Dick (1851) by Herman Melville - A Manhattan schoolteacher marries a Maori harpooneer.
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870) by Charles Dickens - Opium addict murders insufferable twit in an attempt to come between interracial lesbians. Author died before work was completed, so we can all pretend the lesbians won the day.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) by Oscar Wilde - Bisexual youth attains immortality and becomes a total douchebag.
NONFICTION ABOUT THE 19th c.
(aka true things written after WWI about the Victorians by non-Victorians)
- The Cleveland Street Scandal by H. Montgomery Hyde, a mid-20th-c. historian who specialized in English gay history. The Cleveland Street scandal itself happened in 1889, and involved English aristocracy hiring telegraph workers as rentboys. This book focuses on the point of view of the upperclass and aristocratic people involved in the scandal. As a member of parliament, Hyde had an “in” with the English upperclass, which allowed him access to previously private memoirs, letters, and other primary sources.
- The Cleveland Street Affair by Lewis Chester, Colin Simpson, and David Leitch, written around the same time as The Cleveland Street Scandal, covers the same historical event from the perspective of the telegraph boys and other working class people involved. Less well-sourced than Hyde’s work, but unlike Hyde, these three authors actually bothered to find out what became of the telegraph boys post-scandal.
- Daily Life in Victorian England by Sally Mitchell - Just what it says on the tin. Includes very useful charts of prices, wages, and other stats. The list of servants and their duties is invaluable.
- The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime by Judith Flanders - You really can't go wrong with anything by Judith Flanders. Her research is both thorough and impeccable. This particular volume goes into the history of Victorian crime and crime-solving.
- The Victorian Fern Craze by Sarah Whittingham - Everything you ever wanted to know about pteridomania but were too afraid to ask.