Hello, everyone, and welcome to Bizarre Victoria: a blog where I read things, so you don't have to.
I am a current PhD student in the UK (from America, originally) studying Victorian literature. I am writing my thesis, broadly speaking, on the Victorian aristocracy. Fairly or unfairly, the aristocracy have always had a reputation for eccentricity, and this blog is dedicated to capturing and sharing some of their finest real-life and fictional moments of bizarreness.
The goal of this blog is to remain firmly non-academic (though I will try to cite sources to the best of my ability). In my overly-analytical career, I have found that I need a place of catharsis–a place where I can recount the abject loopiness of something and ask, "WHYYY?" without worrying about finding an answer.
Sometimes you just need to throw something out at the internet and say, "Internet, are you aware of this? Is this as full-on cray-cray as I seem to think?" And when the Internet comes back with a resounding, "Yes and, frankly, we're worried that you didn't think it was crazier. We think you're getting desensitized and are at risk for Stockholm Syndrome," then I will know that all is well in the world.
Of course, this won't just be about the aristocrats (though I'm sure I will have AMPLE material). I will also throw in a few summaries of frustrating or totally wackadoo books I've read. Feel free to chime in, whether you think I've gotten it accurate, or totally wrong. Please feel free to recommend (or summarize) Victorian fiction that has driven you up the wall. All I request is that you make it clear what book you are talking about and if there will be any spoilers.
With that stated, please find the first entry: at Queen Victoria's ascension, there was a baronet named Sir Mowbray Cholmondeley Fetherstonehaugh. In case you are not aware of some of the strange pronunciation conventions in Victorian England, that name is pronounced: Mowbray Chumlee Fanshaw. That's right, people. His parents must have hated him. I had known about the correct pronunciations of both Cholmondeley and Fetherstonehaugh before, but to see them together and in reference to a real person . . . well, it was like the universe was smiling on me.
(Reference found in Disraeli's Coningsby, Ed. Bernard N. Langdon-Davies, London: R.Brimely Johnson, 1904 ed., pg. 591, footnote 279).
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