Victorian Beauty – Treasures and Pleasures from Novel-Research

When you’re writing a Victorian Era novel, what could be better than a Victorian mansion featuring Victorian wedding gowns? My friend and I caught the last day of the “Wedding Belles on Millionaires Row Exhibition” at the Woodruff-Fontaine House in Memphis’ Victorian Village. From the oddly arranged 2-sided courting chair and courting candle to all sorts of treasures of everyday life (where beauty and function came together beautifully), this was a fun afternoon of pleasurable research. I’m sharing a few of the photos. (Flash photography is not allowed. Please enlarge the photos for more details.

Photo 1: Courting chair and candle. The candle height could be wound up or down depending on how well the chaperone approved of the suitor. When burned down to the top of the coil – time was up!

Photo 2: The beautiful gowns featured so much detailed embroidery and hand-made lace and details. This one is shown first because she’s wearing a cameo. (The lady in my book receives a cameo she later learns holds stories of family secrets.) Keep scrolling. You’ll find a few more gowns below.

Photo 3: Wedding gifts. Enlarge and read the card. Immediate hand-written thank you letters were required within just a few days. Other fun facts here, too!

Photo 4: The craftsmanship and beauty of pianos of the era are as lovely as the music itself. You won’t be able to see it in this photo, but the keys are richly color-variegated mother-of-pearl. Would love to hear my protagonist play.

Photo 5: A little girl’s world must include dolls.



More wedding dresses just because there were many and choosing a favorite impossible.










Last, but not least: “A Victorian Laptop”? Our guide described it as just that. The man conducted his business from this desk with all it’s cubby holes and hidden compartments. It folded up like a clam shell on wheels. He could roll it down the street and into a special area on the train or ship where he could open it back up and continue on with business as usual. How cool is that?


Copyright 2019, Lynn U. Watson

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