Romance in Victorian Times
By Sherri Wilson Johnson
Because an accomplished gentleman might have traveled often, a lady would wait for a month or longer to receive a letter stating his interest or an invitation to an upcoming ball. Hours were spent pining away for the object of a lady’s desire, reading a poem he wrote, and if another lady set her eyes on him, clever and sometime vicious means were used to distract the competitor.
The suffrage movement of the late 1800s caused some women to shun traditional ways. In an effort to be recognized as a vital and equal part of society, women moved to the cities, went to work, learned to read, and went to college. For those who wanted the company of a man, they did not wait on calling cards to dictate with whom they spent their evenings.
Not long after the turn of the century, women began to see the fruit of their suffrage labors and experienced more freedom than any woman in the past. But at what cost? By the 20s, the conservative upbringings of their mothers faded away and many women allowed themselves to be called a broad, a dame, the cat’s meow, or a doll to gain popularity, dates, and respect. A “charity girl” was a girl who didn’t save herself for marriage—or even for one man. Of course, the vast majority held true to the traditional dating ways and those who didn’t eventually realized that the respect they longed for could not be found in a loose sort of lifestyle. They missed the days of hand-written love notes and spontaneously-picked flowers.
My novel, To Dance Once More, is a Victorian Inspirational Romance set in Florida in 1886. Lydia Barrington wants to leave her father’s plantation and the humdrum life of a debutante. The last thing she wants is to be betrothed to a man she does not love. She wants adventure far from home and the freedom to choose her own spouse—if she decides she wants one. She learns to trust God in every area of her life, especially in love.
No matter what the standards have been in the past and will be in the future for dating, one thing is for sure: women love to be romanced—to have a gentleman tell them how lovely they are and that their fragrance intoxicates them. To have a gentleman hang on their every word is better than a pot of gold. To hear the words “I love you” will never go out of style regardless of the fashions, the pastimes, or the etiquette.
Sherri Wilson Johnson is the author of To Dance Once More (Sept 2011) and Song of the Meadowlark (June 2012). She is from Georgia, has been married since 1988, and is a former homeschooling mom. She loves to write, read, and make people laugh. She loves Jesus and hopes to spread His love to the whole world through her writing.