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Victoriana: Advice, Etiquette, and Textbooks

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Victoriana: Advice, Etiquette, and Textbooks
Compiled by Richard Seltzer
B&R Samizdat Express - May 20, 2003
ISBN: 0-931968-32-1
Genre: Victorian Social History

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - July 18, 2003

Please note: As of 9/19/2008, this CD now contains 217 books.

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) took the English throne in 1937 at the age of eighteen. Her name, and her reign, came to epitomize the social and political machinations of the British Empire. The queen's rigid attitudes on family life, her political and religious ethics, and her adherence to strict standards of etiquette became the national norm. Her reign also witnessed Britain's unprecedented colonial expansion, great advances in scientific research and knowledge, and the development of a vast body of literary works that are today viewed as classics.

The Victorian Era was a complex and compelling period that was to have a lasting effect on western history, both socially and politically. Richard Seltzer's new collection of books on CD, Victoriana: Advice, Etiquette, and Textbooks provides the readers with the unique opportunity to study Victorian social attitudes - in their own words. This collection contains 23 Victorian era books, including etiquette books, advice books for both men and women, plus a number of textbooks covering subjects ranging from Grammar and Composition to Practical Argumentation. Seltzer has also compiled a collection of books on Victorian Science and Technology for those wishing to explore this fascinating element of Victorian history.

The texts contained in the Victoriana: Advice, Etiquette, and Textbooks collection are fascinating, both for their historical importance, but also because they are just plain fun to read. Not only do these book teach you how to dress for a ball, or fire a servant, but you can also learn such important skills as the rules governing dueling and hygienic skill for girls going through puberty. Reading these books offers an engaging glimpse into the mind set of the Victorians, and they are entertaining when you compare how 'they lived' to 'how we live today!' This is particularly true of the etiquette books in this collection.

In addition to the etiquette books, I particularly enjoyed reading Hold up Your Heads, Girls! Helps for Girls, In School and Out (1886), by Annie H. Ryder. This book helps guide the Victorian girl into becoming a proper Victorian era woman. This book offers advice on just about everything from what to study to what is meant by the term womanliness, and how a girl should cultivate this quality. While you might expect this book to advocate that the girls should strive to become wives and mothers, you would be wrong. While these are promulgated as worthy virtues, this book advocates that the 'girls' strive to become whatever they are best suited for - whether that be a physician, teacher, or full-time housewife. It is an eye opening book to read, as are all the books in this collection.

To read the books in this collection, you will need a PC with Windows, plus a web browser or a word processing program such as Word or WordPerfect. All the texts on this CD are in plain text, and they can be read by any screen reading program. In addition, this CD includes a copy of ReadPlease, a windows-based screen reading program. Their homepage is located at: Two versions of the ReadPlease program come with the CD, a free version and ReadPlease Plus, a commercial shareware version. To use the program, you simply highlight the text you want read to you, and the computer will read it aloud. In the free version you can only highlight 16,000 bytes of text at one time, whereas with the commercial version you can set the program to read an unlimited amount of text at one time.

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