Social Victorians

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The Social Victorian[edit | edit source]

Parties, Performances, Weddings and Funerals, Threads and Knots Made Up of Eminent and Less-than-Eminent Victorians[edit | edit source]

This project collects information about social events in London toward the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. The Victorians were supremely social people and the aristocracy were no exception. Little research has been done on their social lives and social networks, mostly because we haven't really decided, I think, what those kinds of information would tell us about them. For the Victorians, that question was easier to answer than it has been for us: they'd find out about social events in the newspapers, and they'd track their own presence in the social world by their presence in newspaper accounts.

Once the British Newspaper Archive, from the British Library, began to digitize their newspaper collections, it became much easier to see what the Victorians themselves were reading about their social events. Because these newspaper articles were accessible to so few scholars until then, the information about Victorian social lives is all still new. It matters also that we have not considered social events to be sufficiently substantial for study: the disciplines associated with the arts have studied the art and the individual lives of artists; very occasionally a prosopography would look at a circle of people. Political Science and History have not taken social events very seriously either. To focus on social events broadens what we are paying attention to — away from the big political and historical events and the men at their center to include most obviously social networks and women. It also can complexify our understanding of many of the important Victorian ideas about respectability, sex, the public sphere, power, class, race and gender.

This site begins with events, some of which are listed below. An event might be a party of some kind, a funeral, a performance of a play or show, or even the run of an exhibition. The closer we look at any of these events, the clearer it is that every event is made up of other events: prior events, sub-events, subsequent events, related events.

  • 2 July 1897 Fancy Dress Ball hosted by the Duchess of Devonshire at Devonshire House
    1. Prior event: The Bradley-Martin costume ball, 10 February 1897, in New York City at the Waldorf Hotel decorated to be Versailles, hosted by Cornelia Bradley Martin for 800 guests dressed as figures, often royalty, from the 16th through the 18th centuries.[1] Bradley Martin had a marketing campaign that ran for the 3 weeks before the ball; she gave the people invited only 3 weeks to get their costumes as well, it was said in order to force people to use local dressmakers.[1] Three days before the ball, a list of the people invited was published in the New York Times, along with descriptions of their costumes. It was controversial because of the expense of the ball and the costumes people wore. The Bradley Martin ball seems likely to have influenced Louisa, Duchess of Devonshire in some of her decisions about her ball; it was intended to surpass a ball hosted by Alva Vanderbilt in 1883, and the Duchess of Devonshire may have thought to surpass the Bradley Martin ball.
    2. Related event: Friday, 1 July 1897, the night before the ball, Lord and Lady Tweedmouth hosted a dinner party for the members of the Queen Elizabeth procession.[2]
  • The events celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee could be considered as interrelated events, as the people who attended would have grouped them mentally.
    1. Jubilee Week, made up of a number of related events, including
      1. 20 June 1897, Accession Day
        1. Thanksgiving ceremony for the Queen and her family at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. The official Jubilee Hymn (music by Arthur Sullivan and lyrics by William Waltham How, Bishop of Wakefield) was performed at this ceremony. Emma Albani performed "Hymn of Praise" by Felix Mendelssohn.[3]
        2. Later that day, perhaps, Alfred Austin (appointed Poet Laureate after William Morris had turned it down) presented his "Victoria," composed for the occasion.
      2. 22 June 1897, Diamond Jubilee Day,
        1. The procession to St. Paul's
        2. The "thanksgiving service" at St. Paul's[4]:12
        3. Ceremony at Mansion House with the Lord Mayor of the City of London
        4. Driving around London for the crowds.
        5. Evening at Windsor, boys from Eton sang for the Queen in the Quadrangle.
        6. "Jubilee Night,"[4]:14 later that evening
    2. From 8 July 1897 until the end of the run in December 1897, Sullivan's ballet Victoria and Merrie England at the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, "included a cinematograph film of the Jubilee procession."[5]
  • The Funeral of Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield
  • The 1887 American Exhibition in London, one of the events of the Golden Jubilee

Some Threads and Knots[edit | edit source]

Some Social Networks[edit | edit source]

Some Categories of People Containing Social Networks[edit | edit source]

Some Social Events[edit | edit source]

Balls[edit | edit source]

Dinner Parties[edit | edit source]

Garden Parties[edit | edit source]

Receptions[edit | edit source]

Weddings and Funerals[edit | edit source]

Events Associated with the Arts[edit | edit source]

A list of dates[edit | edit source]

Timeline[edit | edit source]
Victorian Material History[edit | edit source]
A list of Victorian Places[edit | edit source]
Resources for Studying the Aristocracy and Individual Social Events[edit | edit source]
  • The British Aristocracy
  • Courtiers' appointments, requirements, and lives
  • Check Also the Big Undifferentiated List of People Invited to Social Events by the Prince and Princess of Wales for a lot of their names
  • Everybody known to have been invited to social events during Jubilee Week
  • Everybody known to have been invited to social events during the 1897 season
A list of organizations, businesses, and concerns[edit | edit source]
  • London Clubs
    • The Men and Women's Club
  • Newspapers
  • General Gordon League
  • Todd, Dennes and Lamb, solicitors: 22 Chancery Lane, London, WC
  • John M. Watkins, booksellers and publishers

Spiritual Organizations and People[edit | edit source]

Major Contributors[edit | edit source]

  • Sharon Cogdill, Ph.D.
  • Brenda Wentworth, Ph.D.

Acknowledgments[edit | edit source]

This project began as the work of Sharon Cogdill and over time has benefitted enormously from the help of the following:

  1. The Archives of the Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, Aiden Hailey, curator
  2. The Derby Collection, Knowsley Hall, Prescot, Merseyside, Dr. Stephen Lloyd, curator
  3. The Victoria and Albert Museum, Paintings and Photographs, Ruth Hibbard, curator
  4. The National Portrait Gallery, Photographs and Permissions, London, Curators
  5. Brenda Wentworth, Ph.D., costumer and costume history, for the analysis of the costumes at the Duchess of Devonshire's 1897 fancy-dress ball at Devonshire House.
  6. Julie Codell, Ph.D., School of Art, Arizona State (who, without realizing it, taught me actually to look at the Victorians)
  7. Wikiversity, a project of Wikimedia Foundation, for providing a home for this open-research project
  8. The College of Liberal Arts, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, especially Dr. Roland Specht-Jarvis, Dean; Dr. Mark Springer, Dean; and Mario Felix (for technological support for this research project)

Questions and Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. It would be worth it to make a list of everybody known to have been invited to social events during Jubilee Week; it might help identify dignitaries from India as well as other individuals who have been difficult to identify.
  2. It might be worth it to make a list of everybody known to have been invited to social events during the 1897 season as well.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Bradley-Martin Ball". Wikipedia. 2020-07-12. 
  2. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette Monday 5 July 1897: 3 [of 6], Col 1B. British Newspaper Archive
  3. "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee — The Music in 1897." The Classical Reviewer 5 May 2012 (accessed August 2020).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Murphy, Sophia. The Duchess of Devonshire's Ball. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1984.
  5. Richards, Jeffrey. Imperialism and Music: Britain, 1876–1953. Manchester University Press, 2001: 31.