GUEST BLOG: Victorian Pastimes by Nina RowanThursday, September 6, 2012 10:00
One of my favorite parts of writing historical romances is…research! Dry and boring as the word is, it can be a great deal of fun finding out unique aspects of Victorian history. I must admit I’m not a big fan of researching politics and the economy, but I love the bits and pieces of everyday life that I discover.
For A Study in Seduction, I spent time researching Victorian puzzles and pastimes and found a number of activities that children still play today (tops, dominos, kites, marbles) and other less-familiar games like “Hunt the Hare,” “Catch and Keep,” and “Prisoner’s Base.” Some familiar games were known by a different name, as “Tig” and “Cross-Tig” in Victorian England is the same game as tag.
Some Victorian pastimes are more specific to the era—while children today certainly keep pets, the hobby of catching and keeping animals was far more prevalent among 19th-century children. Books about Victorian sports and pastimes include detailed guides on catching and caring for wild rabbits, squirrels, songbirds, and mice. There are also chapters devoted to magic tricks, puzzles, and riddles, some of which might not exactly connect with the 21st-century child (“Why is a king like a book? Because he has pages”).
There’s no doubt that such handbooks and guides give us great insight into Victorian childhood, but the most interesting fact is how many of the activities are still so much a part of children’s lives today. I see it in my own children’s daily lives—even with the prevalence of TV, computers, and video games, they still love a good game of tag or an afternoon of kite flying. The name of the game, both then and now, is all about fun.
[Ed. Nina is giving one lucky commenter the chance to read all about these fun games and puzzles she researched. Leave her a meaningful comment or question and you'll be in the running for a copy of A Study in Seduction.]