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The Vile Victorians

The Vile Victorians - Terry Deary, Neil Tonge, Martin Brown What adults certainly miss is childhood credulity and curiosity. One without the other is like putting a bag on a plastic mind, although adults would seem to be in the credulity line.

So...this book contains a few unbelievable "facts", which plausibly gain something by being controvertible. I have already found several contradictions to the idea that Queen Victoria killed her husband (although the fact that he had stomach trouble for years now sounds suspicious), but I will list a few of the more outrageous "facts", which I may or may not have confirmed by the time you've read this, in order to jog your senescence, if you have it.

Unfortunately, as a child or adult, most readers are likely to be bored by 4 pages illustrating the typical day of a maid, etc. Not even sure how exciting the pages about Victorian school life would be for students who mostly still recognize same. For such a short book, for such a astonishingly rich literary era, the excerpts and "facts" seem mostly like desiccated lists and filler for a few Victorian poems and songs referred to as "vile".

-- Education in UK only became free for every child in 1891.
-- London's last great medieval fair ended in 1854 because "people enjoyed it too much."
-- Second Baron Rothschild had zebra-drawn carriages, snakes wrapped around his bannisters, and 12 monkeys who attended dinner parties.
-- Alfred Lord Tennyson's most popular poem was "In Memoriam"
-- "The Great Unwashed" referred to the poor who didn't have enough water to both cook and wash.
-- Victorian burials still featured a shroud?

"In poverty hunger and dirt
Sewing at once with double thread
A shroud as well as a shirt" ("The Song of the Shirt" by Thomas Hood)

-- The Bucklands, father and son, would try any meal concocted of strange (animal) parts, including "The mummified heart of Louis XIV"
-- Sir Francis Galton wrote a mildly insane travel guide where he recommended keeping your clothes dry in rain by taking them off and sitting on them.
-- Contains an excellent, stanza-by-stanza explication of the facts behind the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
-- The Victorian literary monsters -- Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. -- matched the Jack the Rippers and violent times.
-- The amazing story of "The Man They Couldn't Hang", whose hanging failed three times, until he was eventually reprieved and set free.
-- Sir Robert Peel invented the police in London in 1829
-- "It wasn't until 1856 that the rest of the country had paid policemen."
-- Because of very high infant mortality, the average lifespan for men in Manchester, 1842, was 38 years old.
-- The police had Queen Victoria drive in the same place there'd been an assassination attempt the previous day, so they could catch the assassin making a second attempt the next day.
-- In 1820, in Scotland, a weaver named Wilson was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but was hanged, then beheaded "for leading a march in protest against unemployment."
-- Queen Victoria and her husband preferred portraits where the people didn't have their clothes on.