Living in the past

This is interesting, from The Strand (Canada)

1.-Gatsby-Garden-Party-at-Spadina-House-2013-Maddy-de-Sousa-720x480This past September, I learned of a couple in Washington state who live their lives as though it were the late Victorian era.

The wife, Sarah A. Chrisman, published an article on Vox titled, “I love the Victorian era. So I decided to live in it.” In the article, she outlines the material aspects of their daily lives—they use an icebox instead of a refrigerator, for example, and both wear period-appropriate clothing, and Chrisman explains how and why they came to live this way. Both Sarah and her husband study history and work as consultants and speakers on late Victorian life. They claim that by living their everyday lives with antiques from the time, they gain special insight into the lives of late Victorian people as a form of primary source study. They love the era, admire its perceived aesthetic and ideals, and simply like living this way. Chrisman ends the piece by recalling some of the negative reactions they’ve received from other people, ranging from relatively mild (her husband’s “hand-knit wool swim trunks raise more than a few eyebrows”) to the decidedly more serious (including a threatening letter repeating the word “kill”).

Trying to recreate the past in one’s present is not a recent phenomenon. The modern historical re-enactment movement emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with a renewed interest beginning in the 1990s. Generally, the term “historical re-enactment” refers to the re-enactment of a particular historic event or activity as it was performed during a period of time, often with participants portraying real historical personages. American Civil War re-enactments are a good example. “Living history” is the portrayal of the broader everyday life of a given period, with participants generally representing “types,” rather than specific historical figures. The interpreters at Colonial Williamsburg, and the show The 1900 House and its numerous spin-offs are examples of this.

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The last Victorian has died at the age of 114

RPY_ETHEL_LANG_TAM_01.jpgAstounding as it sounds it is true.

She was born in the late reign of Queen Victoria and has lived through six monarchs, 22 prime ministers and two world wars and has seen the invention of the radio, the car, the aeroplane, the television, the computer and the internet.

Mrs Lang was one of six girls and left school at 13 to work in a shirt factory. She met and married her husband, William, in 1922, and they had a daughter together, Margaret. Mr Lang died in 1988. The couple’s daughter Margaret Walker said one of her aunts lived to the age of 104…clearly a long lived family. ‘She was a lovely mother, I’ve had her a very long time. I’ve been a very lucky person,’ said her daughter.

Mrs Lang died in her nursing home in Barnsley on Thursday and is survived by a 91-year-old daughter.

Our condolences go out to the Lang family and friends.