When writing stories, I really want to maximize the place and time period I write about. In my case, that’s late Victorian London. It’s easy enough to throw my characters together at a ball. And I do. A lot. But I read historical romance to be transported to another time and place, and I suspect many readers do too. Thus, I like to find out about the best places to visit during my time period and figure out ways to send my characters there.
When I started writing historical romance many years ago, I remember thinking, “I wish there was a Fodor’s travel guide, but for Victorians.” Well, guess what? There were several, actually. Travel was easier and faster than ever during the late Victorian era, giving Britons the opportunity to travel around the countryside by train. Victorian travel guides let them know what was worth seeing, how to get there, and how much admission would cost, if applicable. Baedeker’s was one of the most popular guides. Here’s an 1892 example you can download free from Google Books.
For my latest book, One Dangerous Desire, I wanted my artistically-minded heroine, May Sedgwick, to have a scene in a setting that allowed the hero, Rex Leighton, to see what mattered to her. May is inspired by shapes and colors and historical design, so setting a scene at the British Museum worked well. The next objective was to find out what the setting would have been like in the 1890’s. Ah, research!
I was so excited to find that the museum installed electric lights in 1890. Victorians were utterly fascinated with electricity and its potential during the late 19th century. My hero is quite interested in the possibilities and wants to build an entirely electrified hotel.
I also wanted to learn where artifacts were located in the museum and was lucky enough to find a turn of the century floor plan. May and Rex have a fun encounter in the room of Egyptian relics, so I guess you could say Ramses II makes a cameo appearance in my book!
Most charming of all, I discovered a Victorian-era artist named Ernest Dudley Heath who created vibrant art during the period, including this lovely painting of The British Museum at Night.
When reading historical romance, do you like unique settings? What sort of setting or situation would you love to see but never have?