Fiction

These are some of the best examples of Victorian era or Victorian style fiction that one could find out there. It's recommended that if you pick these up and give them a chance if you come across them in your journeys.



The Merry Order of St Bridget

Margaret Anson
This book of Victorian fetish erotica is now better known as "The Order of the Rod". Set in 1868 (and still has the same effect for plenty of people today. Although it's focus on the erotic rather than the sexual may not quite be what some modern readers are after. The book is still a fascinating glimpse into some of the secret fantasies of the Victorian age.

The Man who was Thursday

G.K. Chesterton
A surreal and bizarre tale of anarchy and politics filled with allegory and metaphor. It is essential reading for anyone planning a secret society. The hero of our tale becomes embroiled in the inner circle of a secret society named after the days of the week, ruled by the powerful figure of Sunday.

The works of Mr. Wilkie Collins

Collins' books 'The Woman in White' and 'The Moonstone' are both classic ghost detective stories.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
An easy read — and there are plenty of them. Later Holmes books veer into the 20th century. These are little use for a Victorian era researcher.

The works of Mr Charles Dickens

A heavy read, but Dickens lived through most of the Victorian period and wrote about the world about him with passion. Possibly his best works for our reference are Bleak House and Oliver Twist. It is very hard to imagine the Victorian era without reference to Dickens.

The Crimson Petal and the White

Michael Faber
A story about how a young lady of negotiable virtue might make something of herself in Victorian London.

The Flashman Papers

George MacDonald Fraser
An epic tale of villainy and cowardice as we follow the 'honorable' Harry Flashman through the Victorian era. Published in 10 paperback volumes and all superb.

The works of Mr. Edward Gorey

It is hard to believe that Edward Gorey's macabre comic illustrated short stories weren't written in the Victorian era. Their style is instantly recognizable and hysterically funny. All the characters remain polite and well mannered in the face of horrific tragedy and disaster, true icons of expected behavior. The stories are available in single books or several collected 'Amphigoreys'.

For the Crown & the Dragon

Stephen Hunt
Set in an alternate Napoleonic era, this is a classic example of what can be done with the 'Steampunk' genre and a damn good book to boot.

The Oswald Bastable Series

Michael Moorcock
While Moorcock is responsible for many, many books, the Oswald Bastable series stands out for Victoriana. The three books in the series are 'The Warlord of the Air', 'The Land Leviathan' and 'The Steel Tsar'. Our hero is thrown around time and joins the fight against the enemies of the empire in alternate earths. The books are crammed with adventure, universal politics and huge zeppelins.

The works of Mr Edgar Allen Poe

For that touch of the gothic, Poe is the master. His poem 'The Raven' is considered by many to be the 'most perfect' in the English language (and Annabelle Lee isn't half bad either). He also wrote many short stories, such as 'The fall of the house of Usher', 'The pit and the pendulum' and 'The masque of the red death'. Most have been made into rather over enthusiastic movies starring Vincent Price, the master of classic horror.

The Sally Lockhart series

Philip Pullman
While Pullman is better known for 'His Dark Materials' (which are also worth a read) his works featuring Sally Lockhart are excellent Victorian material. Not only do they delve into the manner of legalities and current events of the time but the descriptions of London are excellent and well drawn. The books are 'Ruby in the Smoke', 'Shadow in the North', 'The Tiger in the Well' and 'The Tin Princess'. Ruby in the Smoke is a textbook for bringing together a Victorian character group, and Shadow in the North delves into the theatre and mediums as well as the power of technology. Tiger in the Well shows you how the unfair laws of the empire can engineer an adventure in their own right. Finally 'The Tin Princess' takes us (sadly) away from London to delve into European politics. All of the series is essential (and highly enjoyable) reading. The BBC is dramatizing the series and the first of these (Ruby in the Smoke) is already available and excellently done.

Frankenstein

Mary Shelly
Another horror classic. Supposedly written in 1816 on a bohemian weekend in Geneva, Switzerland. Nineteen year old Mary spent the time in the company of Lord Byron, her stepsister Claire Clairmont, John Polidori and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelly. Challenged to write a ghost story by Byron, Shelly's quiet wife produced Frankenstein after a strange waking dream during the weekend.

"I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, them, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life… His success would terrify the artist; he would rush away… hope that… this thing… would subside into dead matter… he opens his eyes; behold the horrid thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains…"

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket
These children's books aren't quite Victorian, but they have a very Victorian feel and attitude to them. Some of Violet's science fits perfectly with the ingenuity of Victoriana technology.

Dracula

Bram Stoker
An excellent work of horror, which is so obvious that we barely need to add it to the list. It is also an excellent reference for the use of telegrams in a game.

2000 Leagues Under the Sea

Jules Verne
A dated but enjoyable tale of the Nautilus and crew. It is little known that the technology of the Nautilus is quite firmly based in reality, and much of the 'super science' contained became reality before the turn of the century.

The works of Ms Sarah Waters

This modern writer may not be as renowned as Dickens or Wells. However her books Anfinity, Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith are all excellent visions of some of the darker and more alternative places in Victorian England. Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith have both been adapted for television by the BBC.

The works of Mr H.G. Wells

Wells is another stunning writer, who could be considered to be the first ever science fiction author. His books 'War of the Worlds' and 'The Time Machine' are essential reading.

The Works of Mr. Oscar Wilde

Even though he was writing a little after the Victorian timeline, Wilde's mastery of satire and word play is still essential reading. Most of his plays analyze and satirize the manners and hypocrisy of the time, as well as being extremely clever and funny. His (arguably) best known plays are 'The Importance of being Ernest', 'An Ideal Husband' and 'A Woman of no Importance'. However don't forget his novel 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. For those of you less inclined to read, yes, most of these have been made into movies.