Hello, my fellow old soul book lovers! I'm sharing a selection of my favorite books about the Victorian era! One of the things I love most about reading is the ability to be transported into the story, and reading books about the Victorian era allows us to step into this bygone age and imagine ourselves in their world. It is such a magical gift from a humble collection of words on pages! But isn't that part of the wonder of reading? I hope you find a new favorite within this list, and please also share your own favorite reads in the comments!
For this list, I chose to focus on fiction and non-fiction written about the era, rather than classic favorites written during the Victorian period...which could be an expansive list of its own! (Perhaps that can be another blog post!)
My first two picks were written by Sarah Chrisman of This Victorian Life, a wonderfully fascinating and informative website where Sarah and her husband, Gabriel, chronicle their experiences living as Victorians in modern-day Washington state. I'm a big fan of the Chrismans and I always enjoy seeing glimpses into their re-creation lifestyle. In This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion, and Technology Sarah shares the story of how they came to live a Victorian lifestyle, and the many lessons they've learned by bringing the past into today's world. Sarah is also a talented fiction writer and her Tales of Chetzemoka series is filled with charming tales that take place in a fictionalized 19th-century version of their town of Port Townsend, WA. Start with the first book in the series, First Wheel in Town: A Victorian Cycling Club Romance, for a timeless romantic love story combined with fun and interesting historically accurate details!
If you've ever wanted to learn more about Queen Victoria, I highly recommend Julia Baird's Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire. It's an in-depth look at the life of Queen Victoria that tells parts of her story you won't find in history books. Baird shows true mastery in her ability to cover a lifetime, a legacy, and a pivotal era in history...and she does it with such compelling storytelling that is a real pleasure to read.
I first came upon Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford when I was introduced to the story via the BBC series. I fell in love with the setting and the characters and, being the book lover that I am, I couldn't wait to dive into the original stories. The first book in the trilogy was written in 1939 and takes place in a small, close-knit Oxfordshire community at the turn of the century. One of the pieces I enjoyed most was the interplay between the classes as the stories unfold. The books and the TV series are equally wonderful, so treat yourself to it all and enjoy soaking in the world of Candleford!
I'm currently reading How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life by historian Ruth Goodman. I first heard about Goodman from her appearance in the documentary series Edwardian Farm. I really enjoyed her first-hand knowledge of the history, and her fun and curious approach to research. In How to Be a Victorian, Goodman takes you through a Victorian person's everyday moments "from dawn to dusk". What makes her work so unique is that she re-creates much of what she studies so that she can experience it for herself, and her research covers the experiences of people from all classes within Victorian society.
I hope you enjoyed my "recommended reads"! If you're able to, please support your local community and pick up a copy of one of these books from your favorite local bookshop!