Addict, The Lingerie, director. Edwardian/Victorian Lingerie & Corset Historical Dressing Sequence. YouTube, YouTube, 31 May 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBnJH1cOXR4.
This video is fascinating, showing purely the undergarments of a Victorian woman. In the dressing process, the expert discusses the function of each piece. I found the bit about the drawers being open at the back so that the women could go to the bathroom particularly interesting, as that isn’t something that I have seen written about in many places.
Catherine, director. TRDS 40: Exploring Victorian Fashion for Gentlemen. YouTube, YouTube, 4 Apr. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYrCeMDCE-M.
This video was one of the few I could find that explored Victorian men’s fashion. I found the sections on the facial hair trends and the hats particularly helpful.
Dorré, Gina Marlene. "Horses and Corsets: Black Beauty, Dress Reform, and the Fashioning of the Victorian Woman." Victorian Literature and Culture 30.1 (2002): 157-178.
While I have no doubts in our Janus’ abilities to create and explain the Victorian fashion, I’d like to be able to provide some context as far as women’s clothing and how it reads to an audience, and how it would have read to an audience in the Victorian age.
HistoricalSewing, director. How to Sit in a Victorian Bustle. YouTube, YouTube, 12 May 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iSEX1uty1g.
This video is great, as it’s a guarantee that the female characters in the play will have to sit at some point in the show. This is something I intend to share with the director, costume designer, props master, actors, and movement coach.
Hughes, Clair. "Hats On, Hats Off." Cultural Studies Review 22.1 (2016): 118.
This succinct guide for who would wear what hat and when will be valuable to provide the director in the rehearsal room.
Priotattire. Dressing up a Victorian Bride. YouTube, YouTube, 14 Feb. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=18QniQ79ql4.
While a little bit informal, this video was great not only because it shows each layer of underthings that a lady would have put on, but there were also explanations of why certain things were done the way they were, how things were to be worn and put on, and how the clothing would have been cared for. While there is no bridal attire in Earnest, it is more than likely the dressing process and the undergarments would have been the same. The presence of the “maid” in the videos reminds the viewer that this was the attire of a wealthy person.
Priorattire, director. Victorian (and Not Only) Realities: How Did They Deal with the Summer Heat? YouTube, YouTube, 26 July 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY_IP4DrKb4.
As The Importance of Being Earnest akes place in the warmer months, this video was interesting in the way it addressed how temperature would affect someone dressed in Victorian attire.
Mackie, Gregory. "The Function of Decorum at the Present Time: Manners, Moral Language, and Modernity in "an Oscar Wilde Play". "Modern Drama 52.2 (2009): 145-167.
This article speaks to the way Oscar Wilde’s works interacted with his Victorian audiences in terms of the semiotic language around movement, speech and manners during the late 1890s.
Maunder, Andrew. "'Alone into the Wide, Wide World': Trollope's Miss Mackenzie and the Mid-Victorian Etiquette Manual." Victorian Review: The Journal of the Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada and the Victorian Studies Association of Ontario 26.2 (2000): 48-74.
This article is highly useful in staging an Oscar Wilde play because it focuses in on one of the most widely read etiquette manuals of the Victorian age, but also the phenomenon of etiquette manuals and the obsession with etiquette in general.
McGrath, Jane. “10 Ridiculous Victorian Etiquette Rules.” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 30 Apr. 2015, people.howstuffworks.com/10-ridiculous-victorian-etiquette-rules.htm.
This is a written version of the video cited below this entry.
HowStuffWorks, director. 5 Ridiculous Victorian Etiquette Rules | What the Stuff?! YouTube, YouTube, 6 Aug. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvuwH2b34Kk.
How Stuff Works is a very trusted source. This video is well-made and backed up with reputable sources. The rules about men and women acknowledging one another, and the ones about how people are to be introduced according to social rank. I found the comments about the law of Primogeniture particularly helpful when studying the character of Algernon and realized just how scandalous Jack asking Gwendolen to marry him was when the narrator elaborated on rules about unmarried men and women spending time together.
Lane, Christopher. Hatred and Civility: The Antisocial Life in Victorian England. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.
This E-book pertains to my research about etiquette as it looks at society from the perspective of the outsider—the misanthrope that Jack seems to be on the verge of as a man with no proper relations and of Lady Bracknell’s fixation on Bunbury the invalid and Algernon’s reasonings for needing to create such a character in the first place.
Tosh, John. "Gentlemanly Politeness and Manly Simplicity in Victorian England." Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 12 (1898): 455-472.
This is an etiquette reference text for Gentleman in the Victorian age. There are far fewer manuals for men, so this is a good thing to have on hand during rehearsals when considering staging and manners.
Weller, Toni. "The Puffery and Practicality of Etiquette Books: A New Take on Victorian Information Culture." Library Trends 62.3 (2014): 663-680.
I thought this article was important to include in my research because of its discussion of the “information culture” that had so much influence over the manners of the Victorian people inside Earnest and in England at that time. This is the best description I was able to find of the effect the silly periodicals and budding celebrity culture had on the people the play is about.
Heritage, English, director. How To Make Sandwiches: The Victorian Way. YouTube, YouTube, 23 Aug. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpSTc1OKhqA.
This video is part of a series by “English Heritage” called “The Victorian Way” which depicts the making of many different Victorian food and drinks and other ay-to-day activities of the servant classes. This is valuable to me not because I think we will be making our prop food from scratch, but because I think it’s a good contextualizing tool, depicting just how absurdly wasteful and careless the upper-class Victorians were-- i.e. Algernon casually popping cucumber sandwiches into his mouth or eating muffins in an “agitated manner.”
Kapetanios Meir, Natalie. "A Fashionable Dinner is Arranged as Follows": Victorian Dining Taxonomies." Victorian Literature and Culture 33.1 (2005): 133-148.
This article is an etiquette text along with some academic criticism about the set-up and etiquette rules surrounding Victorian meals. This may help for blocking and also be an aid to the actors regarding social interaction cues.
Photography Old Journey To The Past. director. Victorian Tea Party - Photography Old Journey To The Past. YouTube, YouTube, 22 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=QehLLMni4MY.
This video was just a collage of photographs from Victorian era tea parties. I include it to have a resource for designers and for blocking.
Simpson, Richard V. "Late Victorian American Eating Habits, Table Etiquette and the Finger Bowl." Antiques & Collecting Magazine 115.9 (2010): 38.
This is another article that discusses not only the habits of Victorians at tea, but at all their meals. The more perspectives and accounts with more illuminations the better.
SebastienCentner, director. The Perfect Edwardian Tea Party. YouTube, YouTube, 21 Feb. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-1UFAJPDF4.
WhiteTrashTrailer, director. Victorian Tea Service Etiquette. YouTube, YouTube, 26 June 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsC9VLRYK7E.
These two videos were both highly entertaining and informative. They were particularly helpful in explaining the differences between High & Afternoon/Low teas. They depict the type of dining ware and utensils to be used and how to use them. They both discuss the etiquette that goes along with the whole tea service and its place in Victorian society.
Hollis, Patricia. Women in Public, 1850-1900: Documents of the Victorian Women's Movement. London: Allen and Unwin, 1979. Print.
This book is a fantastic resource. It’s focus on the women’s movement of the 1850s with a particular eye toward governesses, education and women’s legal status tis in perfectly with Cecily, Miss Prism, Gwendolen and Lady Bracknell’s differing views on themselves and their roles as women in society.
Robson, John M. Marriage or Celibacy?: The Daily Telegraph On a Victorian Dilemma. Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1995.
This is a very valuable resource as not only does it provide critical articles about marriage in the Victorian era but is also a collection of articles published in the papers of Victorians themselves writing on different topics regarding gender relations and the institution of marriage in the mid to late 1800s.
Shanley, Mary Lyndon. Feminism, Marriage and the Law in Victorian England, 1850-1895. London: Tauris, 1989.
This book’s existence itself is great fodder for my research. By discussing the different aspects of feminism through the lens of marriage law from 1850-1895, Shanley encapsulates not only that the topic of marriage law reform was on the minds of the Victorian society but underlines exactly what Wilde was lampooning in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Society & Celebrity
Boyce, Charlotte., Páraic Finnerty, and Anne-Marie Millim. Victorian Celebrity Culture and Tennyson's Circle. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
This text examines, chapter by chapter the development, impact, role and rules of what it meant to be a literary celebrity in the Victorian age. This not only touches on the world Wilde walked among and lampooned but is a bit of insight into the characters of Cecily and Miss Prism as well, who both long to publish a famous and scandalous work of fiction.
Dowling, Linda C. Language and Decadence in the Victorian Fin De Siecle. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986.
This book examines decadence in the Victorian era as more than an aesthetic movement, but as a parody in itself of the Romantic movement that came before it-- where Wordsworth wrote of nature, Wilde wrote of gilded lilies. Dowling discusses Wilde in depth and his place as the figurehead of decadence, particularly in terms of his sexual exploits, highly publicized in 1895 (the year Earnest was written) because he was being put on trial by his lover’s father. This new view of the decadence of the day adds an interesting layer to my research in terms of the way Wilde was parodying the type of people depicted in his play—himself included.
Pappas, Stephanie. "Celebrity Culture Is Based On Evolution. "Opposing Viewpoints: Celebrity Culture Jan. 2015.
This I an interesting look at celebrity culture as it relates to our culture in the 2010’s, but I found it fascinating because Victorians were really just being exposed to Charles Darwin’s ideas about evolution and survival of the fittest. I think this casts The Importance of Being Earnest in a fascinating light, because theirs was a society of extreme hierarchy.
Wilde, Oscar, and Michael Patrick Gillespie. The Importance of Being Earnest: Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
A comprehensive biography of the life and works of Oscar Wilde.
Adams, James E, Tom Pendergast, and Sara Pendergast. Encyclopedia of the Victorian Era. Danbury, Conn: Grolier Academic Reference, 2004. Print.
This encyclopedia is pretty much a perfect reference point for questions about place, time, or Victorian cultural touchstone in the play. While pretty bulky and dense, it is a nice supplement to the other, more specific research I have collected.
DW News, producer. The Victorian Era - Living in the Past | Euromaxx. YouTube, YouTube, 4 Nov. 2011, www.youtube.com/watch?v=48oB_MCmCPs.
This was perhaps my favorite video resource. It shows a man who is restoring his home to its original Victorian fittings. I feel it’s helpful as a dramaturg for me to have this on-hand because it gives an idea of the way a Victorian home would have functioned—what kind of busy work can be given to characters, the flow of the home and even a peek into a Victorian garden modeled after the one where the entirety of Act II takes place.
Victorian-Era.org. “What Is Primogeniture in British Aristocracy?” Victorian Era Life in England. Victorians Society & Daily Life, 2008,
The Law of Primogeniture describes the patriarchal hierarchy responsible for much of play’s confusion and many of the character’s transgressive rule breaking in the eyes of Lady Bracknell. This is important contextually for the show.
Victorianlondon.org. “Etiquette and Household Advice Manuals - Cassells Household Guide.” Victorian London, 2012,
This primary source was a periodical magazine published and distributed throughout the Victorian Era in England. It is likely that characters like Miss Prism and Gwendolen would have read it. It contained articles and advice on fashion, manners, meals, society, etc. This website provides every issue published in an easily searchable online format.