I’ve been researching death and grieving in the early 1900s to inform the novel I’m currently writing. Death was no stranger. An article published by Berkley University, tells that just years earlier in 1830s London, England, life expectancy of middle to upper class males was 45 years. Tradesmen generally lived until 25 years, and labourers until 22 years. In working class families, 57% of children died by the age of five. With the prevalence of deaths, rituals shaped by grief helped mourners to cope with their losses.

Queen Victoria (1837-1901) set the tone for mourning practices when, for ten years following the death of her husband Prince Albert, she withdrew from public life. For nearly 40 years, she dressed in black. Through those years, servants laid out fresh clothes for the prince, and filled his shaving cup with hot water.

For 12 months plus one day, widows dressed in plain black dresses sewn from woolen fabrics and crape. Even her head would be covered by a widow’s cap. Black ribbon would be tied to her undergarments. After 1 year, she was permitted to wear silks in shades of lavender, mauve or violet. (In one source, I read that after two years, she could wear grey, white or purple.) Widows were forbidden from socializing for 28 months.

These practices continued through the Edwardian Era (1901-1910). During the first year of mourning, women wore their “widow’s weeds” which included a long black silk cloak, crape bonnet and veil, crape dress with plain muslin collar and broad cuffs.

Periods of women’s mourning were as follows: for a husband, 2 years; for a parent or child, 1 year; for a sibling, 6 months; for a grand-parent, 9 months; or an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece, 3 months; and for a cousin, 6 weeks. The same rules applied when women mourned their husband’s relations.

PS Click here to join Gwen’s Bimonthly Newsletter and receive a free excerpt of my debut novel The Last Hoffman.

You’ll be automatically entered in my next BOOK GIVEAWAY! Three lucky winners will receive The Last Hoffman or their choice of my Read it/Loved it bestsellers.

I love the company of curious people. Our conversations leave me feeling lighter and joyful. New ideas tumble inside my head after we part ways. In correlation to curiosity, they are introspective and keenly interested in other people’s view points. Ideas, humanity, and the natural world light them up. They extend the pleasure of their discoveries to others. Upon reflection, in detailing attributes of an interesting companion, I’ve also described a writer.
Available at Amazon and other online retailers
in print & ebook format

 The Last Hoffman  is a poignant family drama featuring a multilayered cast of tightly woven characters in a fractured northern community. It will restore your belief in second chances.

“The environmental component is relevant to our times, the struggle to be heard over greed and ignorance and other people’s agendas is real. (…) This book would lend itself to be made into a movie.” ~ Canadian Author Association