Courtship & Marriage In Victorian England

C ourtship was considered more a career move than a romantic interlude for young men, as all of a woman’s property reverted to him upon marriage. Therefore courting was taken very seriously–by both sides. Men and women were careful not to lead the other on unnecessarily. From the time she was young, a woman was groomed for this role in life–dutiful wife and mother. Properly trained, she learned to sing, play piano or guitar, dance and be conversant about light literature of the day. She also learned French and the rules of etiquette as well as the art of conversation and the art of silence. Coming out meant a young woman had completed her education and was officially available on the marriage mart.

Dating from the Victorian era, this stunning house has been beautifully restored

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Courting the Victorian Woman. By Michelle J. Hoppe Until , the legal age in England for marriage was 21 years–for men and women. After , a male.

And for good reason — for centuries, strategically planned marriages allowed the wealthy and elite to retain their social standing, property and family businesses for generations. Marrying for love was pure fantasy and relegated to works of popular fiction. Respectable behavior and strict courtship rituals were the hallmarks of Victorian romance. Absolutely no physical contact was allowed until the couple became engaged, and gifts were limited to impersonal gestures like flowers, chocolate or a book.

Emotional intimacy was expressed primarily through love letters. Dance halls and theaters encouraged group socializing between men and women, and dating became a way to build popularity and social standing.

My Dearest: Love and Courtship in the Gilded Age

In fact, the buttoned-up repression we often associate with the Victorian era misses the fact that Victorians were pretty creative when it came to inventing ways to get around sexual restraint, especially in the sphere of dating. In the Victorian era, many saw marriage as an economic arrangement from which the families of both the bride and groom — though often the groom — would benefit.

And typically, an event known as The Season precipitated all the upper-crust matches that would lead to these arrangements. Families who took part in the event had one goal in mind: To find their daughter a suitor. No matter where they lived, the Victorian elite would send their daughters — in their mid teens and early twenties — to London for the sake of encountering a potential match.

The most important element of The Season took place in the Coming Out , or the presentation of young women before the King and Queen by their mothers, aunts, or other female relative.

GQHF Visitor Services Coordinator, delve into the intricate customs and traditions surrounding dating, marriage, and love in the Victorian Era.

The Victorian era could be a frustrating time to be young and in love, since the rigid constraints of social convention often meant that your every move was checked by a chaperone. Polite conversation about the weather can only get you so far, so many young and not-so-young lovers came up with ingenious ways to pursue their love affairs. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your own romance, you might take a cue from these 19th century sweethearts—just make sure the object of your admiration has the same etiquette guide.

The Victorians were avid letter-writers, with some areas of London having the mail delivered up to seven times a day , meaning that a note could be written, mailed, and delivered within the space of a few hours. A letter could be the perfect way of approaching the object of your desire, but the vagaries of Victorian manners often made the correct approach difficult to master. As a result, numerous manuals were published that provided template letters for first-time correspondents.

The following example from The New Letter Writer for Lovers is a template for a man seeking to instigate a courtship after having met a woman only once:. I scarcely can find courage to address you, and particularly as I cannot flatter myself that you have noticed me in any way.

I followed old-fashioned dating advice in real life

The Victorian period began on the 20th of June , when Princess Victoria became Queen at the age of She reigned as Queen of Great Britain for 64 years and seven months, until her death on the 22nd of January The latter part of the Victorian era coincides with the Belle Epoque era meaning beautiful era of mainland Europe and the Gilded Age of the United States. This was a period of prolonged peace and prosperity in the UK, with the standard of living increasing greatly.

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However this was not always the case; a cursory survey among the older generation born before World War 2 would unveil a reticence and reluctance about discussing personal matters. Along with an exploration of what lay behind this reticence will be a discussion of the rituals of courtship which have changed beyond recognition; the experiences of the previous generation are now dismissed as archaic and restrictive.

The next two entries will talk about love, courtship, marriage, sex and married life from the late 19th century until the outbreak of the Second World War. As this is a fairly broad topic and quite complicated, we will try our best to explore attitudes then and emphasise how different norms and attitudes applied then and now. All details are based on research, reading contemporary accounts and academic and popular studies. Contemporary accounts concerning sex should be read with caution as it is highly likely that they were embellished, sanitised or simply outright fabrications.

Unlike today where men and women mix freely and there are endless opportunities to meet in order for love to blossom and end in marriage, in the late 19th and early 20th century such opportunities were limited owing to more restrictive norms and ideas of propriety that were pervasive in 19th century society; and many of these ideas persisted even into the late 20th century. Why was this the case?

Rules of the Game: Love, courtship, marriage, sex and married life from the 19th century until 1939

The Victorian era lasted roughly from the s until World War I. The prevailing courting and dating trends were those of the middle-class, which entailed men coming to the homes of their date while the parents chaperoned; women would play the piano, and the men would sit socialize with the parents Bailey, Since these dates took place in the homes of women, women and their parents had control over the interactions Sears,

Ok, so obviously it would be naive to glorify any era that included repressive I moved on to the Victorians and their funny ways with “tussie.

The shape of the dress changed significantly during the s, and the bustle was most distinguishing feature of the new 70s fashion. This high protuberance at the back of the skirt carried on the s trend toward flat fronts with extra material gathered in the back. The excess that characterized the Victorian era continued with increasing exuberance during the s.

Skirts and bodices boasted ruffles, trim, flounces, lace, and other frills, a number of different materials, and a variety of deep colors. The introduction of the bustle in the early s changed the shape of the entire dress, not just the back. The sides of the skirt were drawn further back, creating a narrower front. By , bustles were set quite high.

A Brief History of Courtship and Matchmaking in America

In the history of the United Kingdom , the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria ‘s reign, from 20 June until her death on 22 January In terms of moral sensibilities and political reforms, this period began with the passage of the Reform Act There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodists , and the Evangelical wing of the established Church of England.

Britain’s relations with the other Great Powers were driven by the colonial antagonism of the Great Game with Russia, climaxing during the Crimean War ; a Pax Britannica of international free trade was maintained by the country’s naval and industrial supremacy. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history.

National self-confidence peaked.

Paying particular attention to matrimonial dating notices in the Victorian era, Phelgey puts a modern spin on the topic by referencing the surging.

Her reign over Great Britain and Ireland set a stricter moral tone for much of European and American society. Because of this, courtship was an extremely codified affair. Women of the middle and upper classes were expected to conform to the sentimental idealization promoted by the literature and art of the time. Even the fashions of the day, like tight corsets and hoop skirts, symbolized the rigid structure women were expected to live within.

Maintaining a spotless reputation was essential for both men and women, and once each was of marriageable age, there was a timetable and script to follow to matrimony. Once a young woman was done with her schooling, she would be presented to society to show she was in the market for a husband. Wealthy families might hold a series of parties, middle-class families generally held one private party or dance, and girls from working class families usually did without a celebration and simply signaled they were of age by wearing their hair up, dressing in long skirts and joining the adults for dinner and on social calls.

When there was romantic interest, the young man was expected to act as the pursuer. Men were cautioned not to pay too much attention to a woman unless he was serious about her and also financially ready for marriage — or soon to be. Yet with little privacy, young couples lacked the opportunity to get to know each other well before confronting the question of marriage. Poor couples generally made an effort to be as respectable as their wealthier counterparts, but the rules were more lax.

Jennifer Phegley – Courtship and Marriage in Victorian England – February 9, 2012


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