True Wedding Night Stories from the Victorian Boudoir

“Lie back and think of England” was the prominent mindset of many Victorian brides.

Either they heard whispered horrors from elders or knew next to nothing — in some cases, both. Wives who delighted in the unspeakable act undoubtedly would have felt shamed admitting such. For it was not meant to be enjoyed by women.

Accessible marriage manuals for young husbands and for young wives lacked instruction, used confusing metaphors, or failed to address consummation at all.

To better understand Victorians and sex, a set of letters and diaries reveal their propriety and perspective of what happens in the boudoir.

Victorian Beauty Treatments You Can Lavish In Today

Life was about beauty.

Or rather, it was about obtaining status in marriage. In order to garner the attention of a gentleman, one must be lovely and fair. Therefore, a lady’s toilette held many a hushed secret to “natural” beauty.

Though some treatments proved fruitless (and even toxic), Victorian ladies found a myriad of recipes with nourishing properties such as. . .

The Language of Flowers

“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” [Mr. Knightley] soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” Emma, Jane Austen

Undoubtedly countless gentlemen found themselves identical to Mr. Knightley’s distress. What Victorians held in their hearts was not always so easily expressed. Even so, sweet sentiments were not to be neglected.

Etiquette hardly made allowances for improper introductions—let alone grand gestures.

That is how the language of of flowers (floriography) came into being. Feelings that could not be spoken or proclaimed publicly could instead be expressed through blooms.

Paper Hearts: Victorian Courtship Correspondence

Victorians engaged in long distance relationships—especially when both parties were present in the same room. The hustle and bustle of courtship etiquette was truly more hampering than a crinoline!

With such limitations, it comes as no surprise that couples resorted to delivering flirtations by postage stamps, fans, and flowers.

Thankfully, love letters preserved a myriad romances like Mark Twain’s. . .