I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you want to write steampunk, read “Victorian London” by Liza Picard. She is often extremely detailed – and often extremely funny.
Here is some of her section on how a Victorian lady should conduct herself – continued from last week:
With all these hints as to advisable demeanor for every day, the reader may think that nothing remains to suggest for the delicate business of husband-hunting. Alas, in these days when any gentleman belongs to a club where he can find almost every advantage of matrimony, potential husbands are like shy animals, vanishing when most hotly pursued. Do not be tempted to offer, in your own person, those advantages of matrimony which are not available in his club. He is all too likely to obtain these, too, elsewhere than at the domestic hearth. Subtlety is needed, and evasion on your part, never fleeing so swiftly, of course, as to be beyond the reach of the most ponderously slow suitor if he is potentially acceptable. As to your own appearance, I suggest, as with the management of carriage steps and the width of your smile, some consideration in the privacy of your own room. Which is your most advantageous profile? Or is an umbrageous candlelight advisable? An expression of admiring pleasure should be possible to sustain for most of the evening without becoming a rictus. Practise daily, for increasing periods. A conviction that your intended is the most desirable gentleman in every way already resides in his breast. Show him, shyly but unmistakeably, that you share this conviction.
. . . One investigation I must advise, however, before any notable expenditure of time and effort takes place: what is his financial position?. . . Fine whiskers are delightful, but a good income is infinitely more attractive.