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The Victorian Book of the Dead

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Lucy put her hand to her bosom. “Make the dresses all the same—all the same whether I am alive or dead. No, I will not cry; no, I will not. Who is worth a tear? what is worth a tear? All the same. It is not to be forgotten—nor forgiven.”

of the dead taken in Victorian age Haunting photographs of the dead taken in Victorian age

Oh, don’t ask me; I don’t know. If my darling had only died comfortably in her bed, then we could have laid out her sweet remains, and dressed them for her virgin tomb.” Linkman, Audrey (2006). "Taken from Life: Post-Mortem Portraiture in Britain 1860-1910". History of Photography: An International Quarterly. 30 (4): 309–347. doi: 10.1080/03087298.2006.10443484. S2CID 191646714.The doctor’s kind heart was softened at once. He was greatly moved. He had her carried in an ambulance to her old home under his roof. He had forgiven her. While the book is indexed and cites its references thoroughly enough to work as a reference book and scholarly resource, and I’ll definitely use it as such, the sheer variety and fun of the strange, marginal, little news items in here invite the meandering approach. It’s a perfect book to keep by a bedside or on a coffee table, and flip through whenever the urge strikes. You’ll never find anything less than the unexpected. There is so much material in this book that it’s impossible to list, but here are just a few of my favorite headlines: That would be very rich indeed, ma’am, and very becoming to you; but being so near and dear, it would not be so deep as you are desirous of.”

Victorian Age Death and Mourning Practices in the Victorian Age

Butte, Cal., April. 28. While members of the family and relatives were grouped about the open coffin of Mrs. J.R. Burney’s three-year-old son yesterday, listening ot the funeral service, the body moved and presented the child, clad in its shroud, sat up and gazed about the room. His wondering eyes sought those of his grandmother, Mrs. L.P. Smith, 81 years old. The aged woman stared at the child, as if hypnotized. Then she sank into a chair, dead.

One of the techniques used to make the deceased look more lifelike was to prop them up with supports such as metal rods or stands. The photographer would then hide the supports with props such as cushions or drapery. This gave the impression that the person was sitting or standing naturally, even though they were deceased.

Victorian Book of the Dead | Boroughs of the Dead The Victorian Book of the Dead | Boroughs of the Dead

A remarkable feature of this churchyard “flitting” is that the tombstones and headstones were sold The news stories collected and edited by Woodyard were gleaned from thousands of old newspaper articles, and are organized by topic, from “Victorian Personifications of Death,” to “Crape: Its Uses and Abuses,” and “Grave Errors: Exploding Corpses, Flaming Formaldehyde, and Other Funeral Fatalities.” As these title chapters indicate, there is an abundance of mordant humor woven throughout these pieces, which I really enjoyed. In fact, though I appreciated the grim, maudlin, and “grewsome” (an alternate spelling the author seems to delight in) aspects of these tales, I found myself surprisingly attracted the funnier side of these excessive Victorian mourners, who I think had more of a sense of humor than people give them credit for. The tales are at their very best, though, when they stray into the realm of the utterly bizarre, which they do more often than not.

Cincinnati, Dec. 10 One of the strangest affairs occurred last night at Elizabethtown, an insignificant hamlet on the Ohio river, ten miles below this city. The McDole family has lived for years in the most abject poverty. The mother is past 80. Besides her, the family consists of son and daughter, each about 60 years of age. The son [Charles]is a veteran, and greatly enfeebled by wounds received in the war and aggravated by insufficient and indifferent food. This table and its accompanying text really ought to put paid to the notion that a corpse could be stood on its feet for a photograph.

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