Victorian Etiquette

We Victorians take the rules of propriety very seriously. It is who we are. If one does not conform, they are considered outcasts in proper society.Elisabeth

The educating of young women would not be complete without the teachings of refined deportment. Social living and decorum is as much a part of their curriculum as are math, literature and other academic subjects. There have been many books written to instruct both young women and men on the proper rules of conduct. They know that proper conduct and decorum is not only a measure of social standing and success, but was necessary to be looked upon as a means of entering the growing upper classes.

As mentioned elsewhere, Victorians are perfectionists and the fact that one has material goods and money does not insure them a place in "The Most Refined Society". Thousands have turned to instruction manuals for advice. In the earlier part of the century, these manuals were filled with strong religious overtones which attempted to mold the moral character of their young readers. But the second half of the century has brought with it a On meeting a lady on the streetdifferent type of advice manuals more focused on all-purpose household advice than social etiquette.

Still manuals such as "The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook of Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen", Hills' "The Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette" and "A Guide to the Manners, Etiquette, and Deportment of the Most Refined Society" defined the proper etiquette in all types of social situations (engagements, weddings, conversation, table manners, visiting, etc.)

On the next several pages, are some of the rules (and breaches) of Victorian etiquette. Once you finish this section if you'd like to test your knowledge, the McCord-Museum in Quebec has an excellent role-playing game.

pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Basic Rules pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Calling Cards pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) On Calling
pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) At Teas/Receptions pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) At the Theater pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) On Mourning
pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) The Dinner Party pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Shopping pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Breaches of Etiquette
pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) On the Street pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) In Church pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) On Traveling

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