View Full Version : Best Books on 18th and 19th Century Britain

12-22-2013, 06:28 AM
Hi! I have two different books that I'm planning.

The first takes place during the Gregorian era and I would like some recs for books. I'm looking for all sorts of things like daily life, politics, etc.

The same goes for the 19th century but more along the lines of the Regency and perhaps early Victorian era?

Thank you in advance for your help.

12-22-2013, 09:20 AM
Novels by:

Henry Fielding
Jane Austen
Charles Dickens
Wilkie Collins
Emily Brontė
Charlotte Brontė
Anne Brontė
George Eliot
Anthony Trollope
William Makepeace Thackeray
Benjamin Disraeli
Thomas Hardy
George Gissing
Samuel Butler
Harold Frederic


12-22-2013, 09:26 AM
Thank you I'll check them out!

12-22-2013, 12:56 PM
Gregorian era? I take it you mean Georgian :).

These are huge topics and you're not going to find one or two books to help you out with the full range. Whose daily life--men, women? Upper class, middle class, working class? In the towns or the country?

For example, Jane Austen's books, although they frequently feature naval officers, and at least two army ones, don't touch much on politics or war.

I'd start with a general history book to give you an overview of the eras in which you're interested. That'll enable you to discover areas you want to focus on in more depth.

12-22-2013, 04:19 PM
I have to agree with the squirrel. You are talking about a massive area of research which covers a lot of political, economic and social change. So what area are you actually looking at?

12-22-2013, 05:31 PM
I'm mainly looking for stuff on women and their lives. Intellectual life, education and a bit of politics. Oh and the gentry.

And you I meant Georgian haha. I always miss that it seems.

12-22-2013, 06:05 PM
So you're talking upper class women?

12-22-2013, 06:09 PM
Here's two links that might help get you started



12-22-2013, 10:21 PM
Yes those links are perfect! And yes I mean upper class women.

12-23-2013, 08:25 AM
The Internet Archive (https://archive.org/advancedsearch.php) has many, many, many books written in the 18th and early 19th century scanned in.

Here are the ones they have by Mary Wollstonecraft (https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%28mary%20wollstonecraf t%29) (Stuff on women and their lives. Intellectual life, education and a bit of politics all by one writer.)

ETA: The blog Regency Redingote (http://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/) has tons of cool stuff about life in the Regency in general.

12-23-2013, 09:29 AM
I was thinking about Wollstonecraft but I didn't know where to start besides Vindication.

I'll check out that site and look through the Archive. Thank you so much for your help!

12-24-2013, 09:26 PM
You could try reading some works of fiction that was set in that time period. That may be a big help. Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, etc. Books like that. You could also look at history books too.

12-24-2013, 09:32 PM
I found "The Penguin Social History of Britain: English Society in the Eighteenth Century" by Roy Porter to be very helpful when I was researching for a novel set in the 18th Century.

Siri Kirpal
12-24-2013, 11:13 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

A good general reference book to the 19th C is Everyday Life in the 1800s. Won't give you much about upper class women's intellectual life, but it does give info on the day to day stuff.


Siri Kirpal

12-26-2013, 06:50 AM
There's What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, which might be right up your alley: http://www.amazon.com/Austen-Charles-Dickens-Whist-Nineteenth-Century/dp/0671882368

12-26-2013, 06:59 PM
Claire Tomalin's biography of Mary Wollstonecraft might also be of interest.

12-29-2013, 12:04 AM
Try Amanda Vickery's The Gentlemen's Daughter. It's more about middle class women in the Georgian era, but it's still an interesting study on women's lives in that time period. I'm writing about Georgian England myself.

Alessandra Kelley
12-29-2013, 12:21 AM
See if you can find an art book that dissects Hogarth's engravings; there are quite a few of them.

Hogarth's engravings are a marvelously compact introduction to the look, the feel, the fashions (in politics, manners, and architecture as well as clothing), and the foibles of the English eighteenth century, and a good guidebook will help point out all the amazing and evocative details and what they mean.

12-29-2013, 03:21 AM
I love all these suggestions. Thank you guys so much for your help! Gotta get myself to the library.

12-29-2013, 05:04 AM
If you're looking for info on 18th and 19th century fashion, I can help out. PM me if you have any specific questions; otherwise, here are some links to get you started.

Books on costuming:

Victorian Fashions and Costumes From Harper's Bazar, 1867-1898 (http://www.amazon.com/Victorian-Fashions-Costumes-Harpers-1867-1898-ebook/dp/B008U9LV38/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388277566&sr=8-1&keywords=harper%27s+bazar+victorian)

Victorian and Edwardian Fashions From "La Mode Illustree" (http://www.amazon.com/Victorian-Edwardian-Fashions-Illustr%C3%A9e-Costumes-ebook/dp/B008U9TG0I/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1)

Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail (http://www.amazon.com/Seventeenth-Eighteenth-Century-Fashion-Detail-Centuries/dp/1851775676/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388277763&sr=1-1&keywords=18th+century+fashion)

Fashion (http://www.amazon.com/Fashion-Taschen-Anniversary-Costume-Institute/dp/3822827630/ref=pd_sim_b_20) (Kyoto Fashion Museum's collection: 1700s-modern day)

Websites on costuming and Victorian etiquette:

Exploring the Myths of Corsets, Part I (http://yesterdaysthimble.com/articles/corset-myths-i/) and Part II (http://yesterdaysthimble.com/articles/corset-myths-ii/) (article)

The Death of Chivalry (http://yesterdaysthimble.com/articles/chivalry/) (article)

The Art of Dressing Well (http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=hearth&cc=hearth&idno=4399954&node=4399954%3A4&frm=frameset&view=image&seq=5) (antique book available online)

The Ladies' Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness (https://openlibrary.org/works/OL4127480W/The_ladies%27_book_of_etiquette_and_manual_of_poli teness)(antique book available online)

And if your novel should happen to include a pregnancy, this antique book provides invaluable insight into what childbirth was like in the late 1870s:

Hints to Mothers, for the management of health during the period of pregnancy, and in the lying-in room: with an exposure of popular errors in connexion with those subjects (http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=hearth;idno=4118549)

12-29-2013, 11:54 AM
Oh yes! These links are very helpful. Thank you so much.

12-29-2013, 10:20 PM
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Victoriana by Ruhling & Freeman is an excellent resource for little bits of setting - what would the headboard of the bed look like, what kind of table would be in the parlor, how good would the lighting be, etc. It's got pictures of everything and it's pretty good about differentiating between "This item/style/whatever was more or less universal" and "This item/style/whatever was a fad which caught on in the such-and-such population from this to this year." I keep a copy on my desk for easy reference for all those little throwaway scene details.