How did women fare in the 1830s? European society was growing more conservative, and the lusty days of the Regency were now looked back on with a shudder. Popular culture might admire the dash of a Count d’Orsay, but, for women, only courtesans and actresses were permitted the same license.
As one consequence, a trend was building for a greater envelopment of the feminine form in fabric. A new age was coming—one with powerful consequences for the future.
It began on the morning of June 20, 1837, when an eighteen year-old girl learned that she had become the reigning monarch of England. Her values would set a whole new standard for communicating gender. In fact, she’d give her name to the popular culture that would pervade the world until the end of the century: Victorianism. Peter Gay, our former head of the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, has written a series of books that describe the zeitgeist of that period, Bourgeois experience, from Victoria to Freud.
p.s. Researching Costume and Fashion History is being offered on Tuesday April 7, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the South Court Classrooms.