Sunday, 22 April 2012

STEAMPUNK WEEK: Factual Review: The Victorian Hospital - Lavinia Mitton and The Victorian Criminal - Neil R Storey

Release Date: 19/12/08


Lavinia Mitton follows the changes in hospital treatment that took place during the Victorian era and explores the different types of hospitals that were available, from the celebrated specialist institutions served by famous surgeons to the appalling workhouse infirmaries where the patients were looked after by untrained pauper nurses. Illustrated with black and white drawings and photographs of the buildings, beds, waiting rooms and even ambulances that served the Victorian people, this book is a fascinating insight into the growth of hospitals and medical education, and the advances in surgery and nursing that closed the gap between the 1830s hospital and the establishments that we are familiar with today.


Research is often the type of thing that the more you get into a subject the more fascinating the facts and information that you find and whilst a lot of writers haven’t yet thought to tap into these wonderfully detailed books from Shire, I’ve found that it’s a great way to have a whole host of information at your fingertips and of course having them presented in such a way that it can be remembered as well as utilised as a throwaway comment, add greater depth to either your historical fiction title or perhaps even that special Steampunk book you’re working on.

This one deals with the Victorian Hospital and its more than a little surprising to see how far we’ve come in just over a hundred years. For example hospitals were filthy places with many patients entering with one problem only to die from an illness that they didn’t have prior to entry. In addition to this, hospitals were abused by the rich as a way to get free treatment much the detriment to the poor with nurses considered to be the lowest of the low mainly made up of the poor who could neither get employment as anything different. Obviously this changed in the 1860’s when Florence Nightingale opened her school for nursing which changed not only the opinions of the people but also encouraged the middle classes into the profession which in turn, helped bring the standards of the hospitals up in not only the care of the patients but in cleanliness.

All in this book was not only fascinating but one to which I was glued and whether your interest is in the state of the operating theatre (the dirtiest room in the hospital) or the changes in the uniform from the modified scullery maid then this book from the Shire collection is an absolute must read. Great stuff.

Release Date: 18/07/11


From gaslit city streets to dark wooded estates, crime was rife in Victorian Britain; through a wide array of historical court records, newspaper accounts and prison books, The Victorian Criminal gives a fascinating overview of those involved in it. Within these pages may be found accounts of petty criminals and poachers, baby farmers and notorious murderers, along with stories of the development of detective forces and forensic techniques. Countless novels, plays and films are testament to an enduring fascination with the dark aspects of the time and place that gave us Sherlock Holmes, Wilkie Collins and the great works of Charles Dickens.


As a fan of these wonderful factual books, I was really looking forward to seeing what the Victorian Criminal got up, what was within this title was not only interesting but fascinating as there were children included. Add to this great stories to help back up the points alongside illustrations, photographs and mention of things like phrenology as well as methods used for catching criminals as well as some of the more well known cases.

All in this is a fascinating piece of research and if anyone is looking at writing a book set in this period, there’s so much that can be picked up to use as a throw away comment if needed. Cracking all in and a wonderful addition to any persons reading pile. Great stuff.

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