Echoing Michelle’s post from yesterday, I’m one of those authors who writes historicals because I really love research. I read books about Victorian history chock full of details that will probably never make it into my stories. Still, I have this notion that I need to know as much as I can about Victorian England in order to put characters there. You can pretty much ask me any day of the week, and I’ll be reading one Victorian history book or another. Right now I’m reading Victorian Women by Joan Perkin.
In particular, I seek out details about Victorian London, where a lot of my stories take place.
Thankfully, writers, photographers, and artists of Victorian London are plentiful. I’m speaking both of contemporary Victorians who photographed, painted, and wrote about the city at the time, and those who are still studying and writing about 19th century London. Photography, even film, were being innovated throughout the late Victorian era, so we have lots of images that capture the era. I have a few favorites posted near my desk to help me get in the Victorian mindset when I write.
To be honest, I find it easy to get lost while researching Victorian London. There’s enough information to draw me in for days at a time. Research rabbit holes, I think they call them. I’ve certainly fallen down a few! My favorite general contemporary research book for basic descriptions are Charles Knight’s series of books on London, all of which are available free at Google Books. For a modern historian’s take, Liza Picard’s Victorian London is my favorite.
No matter how much I learn about the era, I find myself revisiting the topics of maps and travel times with every book. I rely on this map to orient my characters when they’re traveling around London. And when they leave London? Figuring out logical travel times can be tricky, but I’ve done everything from buying a replica Bradshaw’s Handbook, which was one of the most trusted travel guides of the era, to contacting a railway museum in Britain.
What kind of historical details do you like to see in historical romance? Any burning questions about the Victorian London? If they ever have a Jeopardy episode that’s exclusively 19th century questions, I’m ready!