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A Visitor's Guide to Victorian England (ePub)

P&S History > British History > Victorian History P&S History > Social History World History > UK & Ireland > England

By Michelle Higgs
Imprint: Pen & Sword Social History
File Size: 14.6 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 16-page plate section
ISBN: 9781473834460
Published: 12th February 2014


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Step into the past and experience the sights, sounds and smells of Victorian England, from clothing to cuisine, toilet arrangements to transport – and everything in between!

HAVE YOU EVER IMAGINED what it would be like to visit the Victorian era? How would you find the best seat on an omnibus, deal with unwanted insects and vermin, get in and out of a vehicle while wearing a crinoline, and avoid catching an infectious disease? Michelle Higgs answers all these questions, and reveals the minutiae of Victorian daily life. Drawing on a wide range of sources, this book blends accurate historical details with compelling stories to bring the period to life. A must-read for seasoned social history fans, costume drama lovers, history students and anyone with an interest in the nineteenth century.

Discover the hidden details of history, from how to fend off pickpockets to the correct way to fasten a corset.

As featured in the Express & Star and Black Country Bugle.

Victorian England was not an easy place or time to live for most people, but this guide engages readers without being too maudlin by encouraging them to imagine a trip there--what to bring, how to get oriented, what to expect in cities and towns. This would be a great resource for the classroom or for writers who are creating historical fiction.

NetGalley, June Lee

I’ve taught literature from the Victorian era for a decade and have students do a research paper on some aspect of Victorian life. This book will be a great addition to our research resources!

NetGalley, Michelle Ardillo

This is a great source of information about life in Victorian England, from dress to habits. Recommended for anyone interested in the era and for the classroom.

NetGalley, Alicia Bayer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Another great book on Victorian England. Queen Victoria may have lived a lavish and amazing life the citizens under her did not. They were poor and lived in horrible conditions. Highly recommend that you read this.

NetGalley, April Rogers

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If only time machines were a real thing, I’d be packed and all set for a trip to Victorian England with this well-written and humorous travel guide at my side! Written in a manner identical to normal travel guides for contemporary settings, this has all of the information one would need to travel to Victorian England during this time, including prices, lodgings, rules for gratuity, and shopping guides with the extra flavor of what to expect during that time period that we only read about in things like Horrible Histories books. Want to know what the preferred insect powder is to combat bed bugs? Want to know how many handkerchiefs one would need to dodge the awful smells? How about how to spot the numerous types of pick-pockets and other thieves? It’s all here!

“HAVE YOU EVER IMAGINED what it would be like to visit the Victorian era? How would you find the best seat on an omnibus, deal with unwanted insects and vermin, get in and out of a vehicle while wearing a crinoline, and avoid catching an infectious disease? Michelle Higgs answers all these questions, and reveals the minutiae of Victorian daily life. Drawing on a wide range of sources, this book blends accurate historical details with compelling stories to bring the period to life. A must-read for seasoned social history fans, costume drama lovers, history students and anyone with an interest in the nineteenth century.”

This is yet another solid offering from Pen and Sword, a UK-based publisher which rarely lets me down. If you want solid history books for great value and a moderate, but not exhaustive size – they are a good choice. I think about half of my reviews since I really started blogging on here are by them, and that says a lot as to how much I like them.

I enjoyed this a lot because it takes material most already likely know about or can surmise, and dresses it up in a manner you don’t see a lot with these types of books. If you are worried about yet another dry history book, full of dates and boring asides, this isn’t it. Using things like excepts from first-hand sources of people that traveled to these places in that time period, Michelle Higgs weaves this information with top notch-wit to create something special. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, I bet you’ll start feeling itchy after reading certain parts of the book – but above all, you will gain an appreciation for many modern conveniences.

NetGalley, Stephen Kelley

I really did enjoy this book and it made me feel like I was really visiting Victorian England. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves history.

NetGalley, Elizabeth Neill

Great book, especially if you like Victorian England like I do or just the Victorian era. It gave advice on how they dressed, how they mourned, how they gave birth and etc., Loved reading about how they lived and did things in the time period.

NetGalley, Angela Aldridge

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love the Victorian era so I was excited to read this. Overall it was very engaging and fun. I appreciate the details that were included about all aspects of Victorian life. Now that I am educated in what type of food stalls to eat at, which shops to avoid, and to travel via locomotive, I feel that I can more clearly envision the daily life that the different characters I read about.

NetGalley, Kendra Carter

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This certainly was a very interesting book. It made me gasp in some parts and shake my head in others. It is difficult to,imagine how people lived over 100 years ago. Make one grateful for today’s modern conveniences that is for sure!

NetGalley, Patti Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As a writer of historical non-fiction, I found this book informative, useful and enthralling. Some good tips in here. Recommended.

NetGalley, Wendy M Rhodes

If you like Victorian England then this book is definitely for you!!! Clear and concise but never boring, absolutely loved exploring it!

NetGalley, Francesca Chiru

What fun! A guidebook to Victorian England! Interspersed with period diary entries and quotes, this book is written as though the 1800's is a place the reader could actually go visit anytime. This guide covers just about everything you'd need to know in order to get by in Victorian England, from fashion to health to getting a good deal on lodging. It makes you feel a little bit like a time traveller!

NetGalley, Sarah Czarnecki

I loved hearing all the history of Victorian England. This book answered a lot of questions I’ve had while reading some fiction books set in this era. If I was going to attempt writing a Victorian fiction book this would probably be helpful to refer to. I loved the part in the back that tells how much things cost, what wages were and how much their money is worth I've always wondered about that.

NetGalley, Shaylin Maxwell

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Much smellier and messier time period, but entertaining read! It's the history that history misses. I love reading about various other time periods and have always regretted not studying further social history, which was always my favorite aspect of history. This is a fun read for armchair historians and anyone else interested in how people lived in the 19th century. Nice research Ms. Higgs!

NetGalley, Catherine Hankins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love this series because I always learn something new and have lot of fun in reading it.
This "Visitor's Guide" is no exception as it's well written, witty, informative and highly entertaining
It's strongly recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love history and found this book a thoughtful and thoroughly enjoyable read. The unique style of writing felt like you were really stepping back into history and were living the experience. I found the book merged accurate historical details with compelling stories to bring alive the actual details of Victorian daily life. Definitely recommend for those interested in Victorian life.

NetGalley, Hayley Graham

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

5 stars- a really informative, detailed and intriguing guide of Victorian England for visitors, it was so compelling and so interesting to know what it was like back then and how places to stay were like, to currency and much more, it was so interesting to read i loved this, if you love Victorian History or want to know more about Victorian England you must read this!

NetGalley, Shannon Wadlan

It contains a wealth of information—difficult-to-find information such as how much things cost and how long travel takes from one place to another. It’s a wonderful resource for basic information about life in Victorian times.

NetGalley, Susan Coventry

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book was a fun, fun read. It gave you informative look and into the Victorian era a travel guide to the past!!

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

The book is charmingly written like a travelers guide you d use for a holiday, drawing on quotes. newspapers and writings from the time, it provides great insight and information in more light hearted way, than the more traditional non fiction historical books. The text is divided into sections such as Traveling, Clothing and even Encounters with the Opposite Sex. A great, easily accessible book that covers a wealth of information (you even learn about the different names given to styles of mens facial hair) and answers many queries you may have about the lives of people in the period. A great addition to anyone library that has an interest in social history and this period.

NetGalley, Lorna Vianna

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I eagerly look forward to any new Pen and Sword publications as I know how beneficial they have been to my family history research. I’ve found previous books by Michelle Higgs very useful.
Even as someone who has been compiling their family tree for a while now I seem to find something of use in every new publication .
A very interesting and informative read which I found very entertaining to read.

NetGalley, Alison Bevington

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book was so unique, educational, but more than that...fun to read. I would encourage anyone interested in the Victorian era to read this book. It's quite well done.

NetGalley, Sue Fernandez

This is fascinating. It is definitely a social history but it reads like a work of fiction in that you are immediately drawn into the context and story of the time. If you are a fan of Victorian literature, this will add a great dimension thought more context and detail of the times in which such works were written.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

Informative, fascinating and accessible, I really enjoyed this from cover to cover. I have read numerous books about this era but still felt I learned a lot and there was plenty to keep my interest. The topics were wide reaching and well chosen and all social classes were included in the narrative, in fact seeing the differences of how people lived in the same era was truly eye opening. It was an excellent balance of entertainment and education, which is perfect when reading a topic for pleasure but also opened up some areas of interest and whetted my appetite to now go and do further research.
I’d recommend this definitely.

NetGalley, Helen Frost

The blending of information about rich and poor; male and female; professional attitudes and behaviours and those of the tradesperson, or domestic worker makes for a richly woven narrative that is accessible, fascinating, and realistic. Higgs has made a worthy contribution to the way in which writing history can accomplished to relate to a wide range of readers. This book can be a beginning to further study through literature and the sources listed at the end of the book. There is also a fine index. However, the book is also a worthwhile standalone read which takes the reader into England’s Victorian world.

NetGalley, Robin Joyce

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is a historical fiction writer’s dream. Want to know how much a pair of gloves costs, or the rent on a hotel room? It’s in here. The specificity of giving information of what it was actually like to live in Victorian England is so incredibly helpful if you are trying to write a story set in that time period. By reading, you can tell it was meticulously researched and organized. I am sure I will be coming back to reference this book many times in the future.

NetGalley, Elizabeth L

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating book: Really is written as a visitor’s guide

I loved this book. Although this is a history book, it is written unlike any other history book I’ve ever read as it is written like an instruction manual. This is a great way to learn history. The appendices are also very useful, containing information on currency and coinage, the costs of living, and wages. There are also some great photos. There were lots of anecdotes and contemporary accounts adding to the texture of the book. The book is objective, covering the best and worst of Victorian society. I recommend this book for anyone interested in history, for time-travelers, and for members of away missions (redshirts are directed to the chapters on health hazards).

NetGalley, Stephen Goldberg

I am a big fan of books about Britain, and my favorite time period to read about is the Victorian era. So, this book was right up my alley, and I was glad to have the chance to look through what it has to offer. Chiefly, this book is about what one would encounter in the daily life in Victorian England. I thought it would be more like a travel guide, like it talked about sights and events that would be seen if you were visiting England and wanted to know about its Victorian past. Rather, its more historically grounded with discussion in daily features of Victorian life. I think that one of its strengths is in the conversational, yet informative nature of the writing style. There is that sense of humor in the writing that makes it enjoyable to read. I liked the amount of research that went into the guide -- not too much that it bogs you down, but not too light that you aren't getting anything from it.

NetGalley, A Home Library

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Victorian era is endlessly fascinating to read about. As a little girl I wanted to be whisked away to the late 1800s, little knowing about its dangers, diseases, poverty and class distinctions. This book positively sizzles with information as the author plunks us right into the thick of things when merely crossing the road is taking your life into your hands, probably akin to modern Rome. As long as people are properly attired for their station and fashion trends...with hats...they will surely be ok.

But no. Water may be crammed with bacteria. Etiquette for all circumstances must be learned including hotel stays where bugs are so thick they "fall like peas" from ceilings. Another reason for that hat. Men may share a bed with another man in accommodations. Beatrix Potter humorously likens hotel stays to having "too much Natural History" in beds! Women may die in childbirth due to a life of corsets. Feet may get soaked when inside many forms of horse-drawn transportation. Doctors are likely to kill rather than heal. But thankfully one can hold hands with his or her fiancé.

Prices are included in this well-researched book such as accommodations, food, garments, transportation and occupations. The author also describes shopping, tipping, gazers, customer service, nightsoil removal, requesting "curling papers" due to propriety, all sorts of entertainment, feasts, religion and photography.

Readers of Nonfiction should absolutely read this highly-entertaining and informative book, chock full of historical details, wit and humour. I enjoyed it thoroughly and cannot recommend it enough. Talk about memorable! I was happy to see illustrations and photographs.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

This is a truly fascinating book for which I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning from. The information has been gathered from various sources, and this research clearly shows out from the book. The thing I loved most about this book is how descriptive it was, at some points in the book it even reads like you reading poetry. Whilst I knew quite a few things I read in the book, there was still plenty to learn about. The book is very comprehensive in its coverage, which would make think this would be an ideal book for aspiring authors who would like to write about the period. Towards the back of the book is some very good appendices that look at a timeline, money, food costs and household incomes of the time. This is fantastic book and I would happily recommend it anyone to read.


Read the full review here

UK Historian

Author article 'The Victorian roots of vegetarianism' as featured by

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, January 2020

This essential reading for a time-traveller to Victorian England includes everything you should know, like the guidebooks we take with us today - from 'Getting Around' to 'Health Hazards', and a useful chapter entitled 'Encounters with the Opposite Sex'.
Tuck this book into your valise when you set out, and you will never be without advice on how to proceed through the Victorian era.


This is a fantastic guide that relives what life would have been like for the visitor during the Victorian era, [Higgs] has not romanticised what it was like but given an honest account. This is an excellent background for any student of Victorian England.

Paul Diggett

Fascinating historical details abound in this fun and informative guide. Drawing on all kinds of historical sources, it's a delightful layman's guide for tourists from 2014, where you'll glean plenty of juicy detail to paint a more accurate picture of your ancestors' lives. And you'll thank your lucky stars for the way we live today!

Family Tree Magazine

The guide is given in a breathless style, with an excellent appendix on prices etc.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine

A lively and informative guidebook to Victorian England.

Your Family Tree

Drawing on a wide range of sources, 'A Visitor's Guide to Victorian England' blends accurate historical details with compelling stories to bring the period to life.

Stourbridge News

An informative and entertaining read.

Discover Your History

‘A Visitor’s Guide to Victorian England’ is essential reading for anyone wishing to travel to the nineteenth century. From riding on omnibuses and sampling the street cuisine, to avoiding infectious diseases or being coshed over the head in a dark alley, this exceptional guide is full of practical advice and handy hints.

Meticulously researched and presented in an engaging and thoroughly entertaining way, Michelle Higgs has drawn on her considerable expertise of Victorian life to create this delightful compendium. She includes quirky facts, evocative descriptions and possible pitfalls for everyone drawn to the nineteenth century, for work as well as pleasure. Through her compelling guide, she recreates life of the time with all the sights, smells and sounds that a visitor would encounter. She explores a range of different settings, the characters you might meet and the best ways to get around in the period, notwithstanding the ever-present dangers and the cumbersome clothing.

I loved this guide and couldn’t put it down. I would highly recommend it and will definitely be taking it with me the next time I visit the nineteenth century, as well as an umbrella for warding off any unwelcome attention!

Angela Buckley
 Michelle Higgs
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