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A Visitor's Guide to Victorian England (Paperback)

P&S History Social History Victorian Era England

By Michelle Higgs
Imprint: Pen & Sword Social
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 16-page plate section
ISBN: 9781781592830
Published: 12th February 2014
Expected Re-release Date: 28th February 2021


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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.

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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