In ACD’s original Sherlock Holmes stories, Watson constantly describes Holmes as languid- his “languid, dreamy eyes”, how he talks “in his languid fashion,” and how he “lean[s] languidly against the mantlepiece.”
I know that reading homosexual subtext into the original Holmes stories is like shooting fish in a barrel and I’m not really a girl for ‘evidence lists’ anymore. I don’t think Doyle meant them to be gay but that said I sincerely think that Doyle wasn’t as consistent in his characterisation of his detective as we give him credit for, nor one to really care.
Anyway, shooting fish in a barrel is extremely enjoyable.
Now, I must go and see if Hornung used languid at any point in the Raffles stories. That was a man who knew exactly what he was doing when it came to subtext.
^^^^ Agreed. Also, just to add:
J.A. Symonds notes that a homosexual stereotype emerged by the late nineteenth century, namely “pale, languid, scented, effeminate, oblique in expression.” x
the word homosexual never appeared in literary criticism of the time but according to robert sawyer people like algernon charles swinburne (remember him?) used a homosexual discourse in his criticism of shakespeare’s works—he basically used codewords like “androgyny,” “languid,” and “Greek.” the LGBTQ community would understand what he meant, while other readers would not. x
As aforementioned, Victorian women were, for one of a number of possible reasons, frequently afflicted by fainting fits. Whilst indoors this might be easy enough to remedy, however, a sudden fit whilst out and about might prove more perilous. Thus, Police constables of the era were equipped with small vials of smelling salts in small containers adorned with a crown - called Lady Revivers - to revive women in the streets.
Victorian Cliff House
Cliff House has had five major incarnations since its beginnings in 1858. In 1896, Adolph Sutro built a new Cliff House, a seven story Victorian Chateau, called by some “the Gingerbread Palace”, below his estate on the bluffs of Sutro Heights. Great throngs of San Franciscans arrived on steam trains, bicycles, carts and horse wagons on Sunday excursions.
The House burned to the ground on the evening of September 7, 1907
I’m writing a story where a character is cursed and is immortal, and they were born in the victorian era and now it’s modern times. Anyway, do you have any tips on old fashioned language? -Anonymous
Well, that depends on your character’s background. For example, if they were born into the British upper classes, they’ll speak differently to if they were in the lower classes in America. See where I’m coming from?
Generally, for upper classes, go for long words and long sentences. Semi-colons are your friend. And for the lower classes, slang slang slang.
This is a gross generalisation, but hopefully it gives you the basic idea.
Also don’t forget that if the character’s immortal, they’re probably likely to have assimilated somewhat, so don’t be afraid to mix Victorian and modern language and speech patterns. It could add a whole other layer =]
Here are some awesome resources that explain things way better than I ever could:
- Victorian Language, a brief summary
- Criminal Slang, doesn’t have everything but does have it in context, which is helpful
- Victorian Slang Glossary, more comprehensive than the above
- The Etiquette of Conversation, more about how you should say things politely than what you should say, but you might find it useful =]
- Victorian Vernacular, a forum thread on Steampunk Empire with some cool links and tips
- And here’s a really cool collection of obscure English words
Apart from that, I suggest you just google the type of thing you want and/or read some Victorian books - start with Oliver Twist and go from there =]
I hope this was helpful!
There was an old person of Skye,
Who waltz’d with a bluebottle fly:
They buzz’d a sweet tune, to the light of the moon,
And entranced all the people of Skye.
Edward Lear, from More nonsense, pictures, rhymes, botany, etc., London, 1872.
ca. 1855-95, [carte de visite portrait of a young gentleman in a top hat smoking an elaborate pipe], T.A. Brown
How Tea Time came about:
Anna, the Duchess of Bedford decided that the “sinking feeling” she experienced in the late afternoon called for the adoption of the European idea of ‘tea service’ and created, what we now call ‘Tea Time’.
She did this by inviting friends to join her for an additional summer meal at five o’clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The menu was simply bread and butter, sandwiches and small cakes. It proved so popular that she took the idea back to London with her, and it soon caught on. Of course, the afternoon ritual was as much centred around conversation and gossip as food and drink.
Work on a commission, then draw some gay Victorians. This is a good system.
These two are a patron and a rent boy in some high-end mollyhouse. You can tell it’s high-end because of all the chinoiserie, obviously.
The dissecting-room (1884).
William Strang, from Etchings of William Strang, by Frank Newbolt, London, New York, 1907.
A caricature sequence of posed joke photographs showing five stages of putting on a crinoline, ca. 1860.