Land of fog-shrouded streets,
Cockney flower girls, soot-faced urchins, friendly Bobbies, and Sherlock Holmes
. Also home to Jack the Ripper
, so you'd best mind your step while walking through Whitechapel, unless you want to wind up lying on a marble slab with some grim-faced police detective from Scotland Yard inspecting your corpse.
Fortunately, if you're in trouble and the situation is strange and interesting, Holmes might give a deep discount on his fees to take your case, especially if there is a hint that Professor Moriarty is involved. Mind you, Scotland Yard is getting better at detection since the Ripper embarrassment (not to mention Holmes constantly showing them up), as up-and-coming police detectives like Sgt. Cribb
get to show what they can do.
Be on the lookout also for wispy, top-hatted Vampires wearing long black capes. A run-in with one of those could leave you floating in the Thames with a pair of holes in your neck and your body drained of blood. Other things to avoid are opium dens
and any evil cultists, Mad Scientists
, creepy Egyptologists, or Wax Museum curators
who seem to have a more-than-proper interest in your girlfriend. On the other hand, if you meet a man with a bag on his head and a strong speech impediment
, be nice to him.
Speaking of more-than-proper... you'd better
watch your step, guv'nor, as the moral tone of this period is, well, positively Victorian. If you're a woman, prepare to be able to defend your 'virtue' literally with your life. Conversely, if you're a man, be aware that any tampering at all with this fragile commodity may lead to 'either marriage, or breach of promise [lawsuit]!' Of course, underneath all this middle-class repression, everybody — well, everybody male, anyway — is a sex-mad brothel patron, the seedier the better, so it may not be all
Other hallmarks of this period include fussy overstuffed parlours, big-eyed waifs locked in sadistic boarding schools
and workhouses who are forced to labor 23½ hours a day for a mere crust of bread, jolly people singing Christmas carols
, old misers who yell "Humbug!"
, women in big poofy elaborate dresses
, and big scary gothic halls. Is also an era prone to the most unbelievable coincidences
, especially when it comes to X character being the secret father/brother/best friend's sister's former roommate of Y character
. Things can also get cloyingly sentimental
Apart from the vampires (probably) and perhaps the coincidences, a lot of this is disturbingly accurate
. (The Fog was accurate, but was caused by all the coal smoke; as pointed out on Mad Men
it's not a permanent climate and is now long gone.) The Victorian Era also happened in the rest of the country
, of course, but as we all know Britain Is Only London
It is also the de facto default setting for Steampunk
Popular tropes from this time period are:
Anime and Manga
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
- From Hell.
- French comics Basil and Victoria (and the cartoon adaptation, renamed Orson and Olivia).
- French comics Professor Bell, by Joann Sfar.
- Predator Nemesis. Ex-British Army Captain Soames is enlisted by Mycroft Holmes and the Diogenes Club to investigate a grisly massacre in an opium den, the killer being identified as "Rakshasa" by the sole survivor. The killer is the same Predator Soames encountered in India years before. Sherlock Holmes is mentioned (Soames is enlisted mainly because Sherlock is "out of the country at the moment", and it's implied that Mycroft is aware of Soames previous encounter) as well as Jack the Ripper, whom is initially thought to be the culprit by Soames, and is strongly implied by Mycroft to have been killed by the Diogenes Club, but the details of his identity and his exact fate are kept secret from the public.
- Dracula — the Bram Stoker novel and many of its adaptations.
- Ankh-Morpork on Discworld, except it's more like modern New York set in Victorian London. With dwarfs. And trolls. There's even a few neurotic vampires with hilarious accents.
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- Many of the works of Charles Dickens:
- A Christmas Carol
- David Copperfield
- Oliver Twist
- Not all of them, technically speaking, though. Little Dorrit takes place in 1826 and The Pickwick Papers in 1827-8, in the Georgian Era. Those were published in the Victorian years, though, and at least once Dickens made an anachronistic reference to "Her Majesty" or some other development that had taken place between the time they were set and the time he was writing.
- A Little Princess
- The Time Machine and most of its adaptations feature this as the Time Traveler's own era.
- The War of the Worlds Centers around the exodus of London at one point. And it's where the Martians die. In 1898.
- The Witch Watch is set here for the most part.
- Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody stories start in this period and move through The Gay Nineties into World War One. But Amelia and her husband (though notably not her children) retain their Victorian London sensibilities throughout. Most of their adventures actually happen in Egypt, as they are archaeologists.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Anne Perry's mystery novels are very conscious attempts to subvert the common Victorian stereotypes, by playing up the tension between facade and the reality of human emotion. When this works, it works brilliantly; however, when it doesn't, the result tends to be lurid melodrama that makes Le Fanu look plausible.
- The second trilogy of the Welkin Weasels depicts a furry version of Sherlock Holmes — not connected in any way to The Great Mouse Detective or Sherlock Hound, but a weasel by the name of Montegu Sylver — living in a Victorian London Fantasy Counterpart Culture full of furries.
- Darkness Visible.
- Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series.
- Molly Hughes' A London Family trilogy does for middle-class London what Flora Thompson's Lark Rise To Candleford did for rural England at largely the same time (1870s-90s). Thompson and Hughes even wrote their books at the same time (1930s).
- The Arcane Society novels written by Amanda Quick fall into this era, whereas the Jayne Ann Krentz novels are modern era and Jayne Castle are futuristic.
- Sarah Waters' The Fingersmith, published in 2002 and made into a BBC drama in 2005, is a gay and lesbian take on the setting, with dips into the mental health tropes of the era, including a stereotypical Bedlam House plot and a man after an inheritance.
- One of the downtime locations of Time Scout. The two latter books take place during Jack the Ripper's tour de force.
- The Gemma Doyle series takes place here.
- The Infernal Devices, prequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments series takes place here.
- Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal And The White, also adapted for television by the BBC in 2011.
- A not uncommon destination for Doctor Who: "The Evil of the Daleks", "The Talons Of Weng-Chiang", "Ghost Light", "The Unquiet Dead", "Tooth and Claw", and "The Next Doctor" have all been set in the Victorian era. "A Good Man Goes to War" had a short scene in Victorian London and two characters from the era who were prominently featured. Even knockoffs of Victorian London have been seen: "The Ultimate Foe" was set in a simulation of Victorian London (long story), and "A Christmas Carol" was set in Victorian London IN SPACE! Then the Mark Gatiss-penned episode "The Crimson Horror" took us to Victorian Yorkshire.
- The SyFy series Sanctuary uses this often in flashbacks to Helen Magnus and The Five, one of whom was in fact Jack the Ripper (rounding out the group was the Invisible Man, Sherlock Holmes, and Nikola Tesla.)
- The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff, being a Sound to Screen Adaptation of Bleak Expectations.
- The cello rock band Rasputina uses imagery from this period in their songs, and their website even claims that the band was created in 1891.
- The tourist attraction The London Dungeons in London has some area's themed this way.
- San Francisco's Great Dickens Christmas Fair. In spades.
- Radio comedy series Bleak Expectations parodies this trope up one side of the workhouse and down the other.
- One of the domains of Ravenloft, the city of Paridon, aptly enough for a gothjc setting, is Victorian London, including a Jack the Ripper Expy.
- The Ravenloft: Gothic Earth setting is entirely set in the Victorian Era, and centres on London.
- The appropriately-titled Victoriana RPG, from Cubicle 7 Games, uses this setting (with a few fantasy modifications) as a jumping-off point.
- City of Haze and 13th street in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin.
- The moments of Alice: Madness Returns not set in Wonderland are set in Victorian London, aka The Real World for Alice.
- Wizard101 the world Marleybone is an Expy of this mixed with Steampunk. Oh yeah, and the people are all dogs, cats, rats, or the occasional frog.
- The city from The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is most likely Victorian London, given the visuals of the place, but nothing is ever stated.
- The setting for Amnesia A Machine For Pigs, sequel to Amnesia The Dark Descent.
- Browser game Fallen London is set in Victorian London, after the city was stolen by bats and buried a mile underground. Victorian tropes abound, as do cameos from Public Domain Characters.