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The Victorian Fancy Dress Ball


The Victorian Fancy Dress Ball

A Lit & Phil lecture via Zoom

Tuesday 29 June 6pm FREE

Rebecca N. Mitchell

'Pay what you wish'

There is no set ticket price for this event, but if you would like to make a small donation to support the good work of The Lit & Phil we would be very grateful.

Please book your place via the shopping basket above, and you will then be sent a Zoom invitation. Note that you don't have to have Zoom installed on your device to take part.

Queen Victoria famously enjoyed fancy dress - holding a series of ‘historical’ balls to mark the eras of her royal ancestors - but it was a passion widely shared. From the mid-nineteenth-century, newspapers detail countless fancy dress balls attended by people of all classes, often including lists of ball-goers and their costumes. Fancy dress allowed Victorians to explore characters of the past along with the news and trends of the day: costume manuals offer tips for dressing up as the ‘Suez Canal’ (‘Long flowing robe of cloth-of-gold, with waves of blue satin bordered with pearls…’) or the ‘Telephone’ (‘White satin dress with striped overskirt…Head-dress with the mouthpiece at the side’). This talk explores the range of motivations for and manifestations of this quintessentially Victorian entertainment.

Rebecca N. Mitchell is Reader in Victorian Literature and Culture and Director of the Nineteenth-Century Centre at the University of Birmingham. She has published widely on Victorian fashion, print culture, realism, George Meredith, and Oscar Wilde; her current, Leverhulme-supported monograph project, Fads Forward, explores the Victorian origins of fad culture.


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