The Victorian era is often regarded as a time of modesty and prudence, but it appears not everyone got that memo. Two books just re-released by the British Library reveal that a little vanity didn't hurt anyone, even when ruled by a queen who wore mourning black for 40 years.
Originally published in 1873 by "A Lady" (really), Beauty, What It Is and How to Retain It is a practical little guide dispensing tips on whipping up homemade hair tonics and face masks with lard and beef marrow, the value of brushing hair for 20 minutes night and day, and using a soft badger-hair brush to clean the teeth. And then, there are skin-care secrets like this: "The water used for washing the skin should be rain-water, but if London rain-water, it must be filtered to clear it from smuts.” Good to know.
For the menfolk, The Gentleman's Art of Dressing, With Economy , written by "A Lounger at the Clubs" in 1876, provides budget-minded advice on dealing with a wet top hat (oh, the bother) and the importance of not wearing the same trousers two days in a row. Preach.
Priced at just £7.95 apiece, these old-school tomes are just begging to be gifted to those mates who are always fretting over their wrinkles and/or waistcoats. Now, where can one find a badger-hair toothbrush?
Photo: Courtesy of British Library