February 14th is Valentine’s Day. To celebrate the holiday 19th-century style, I’ve collected a few Valentine’s Day news items from Regency England, Victorian England, and even 1890s Texas. Some remind me a bit of modern day “lost connections” or “lonely hearts” adverts, while others are simply humorous historical Valentine’s Day messages or, predictably, not so humorous Victorian Valentine’s Day news.
The first item is from an 1819 edition of Saunder’s News-Letter and was posted by an anonymous gentleman — a self-described “man of the strictest honour” — seeking his missing Valentine.
<p?The next Valentine’s Day advertisement, printed in an 1868 edition of the Cork Examiner, strikes me as being quintessentially Victorian. Note the mention of the Crystal Palace and lion feeding at Trafalgar Square! The Cork Examiner seems to think this advert (previously published in an earlier edition) was merely someone being facetious. What do you think?
Not to be outdone for humor, an edition of the Laredo Times in Texas printed several personal messages for Valentine’s Day, 1897. They range from the generic to the bizarre. It’s nice to know that our late 19th century forebears could be as creative with goofy nicknames as some of us are today.
And here’s another humorous Valentine’s Day message from the 1897 Laredo Times:
Of course, it would not be a 19th century holiday without a grim Victorian tale. For Valentine’s Day 1891, this was provided by the Daily Gazette for Middlesborough, which related the tale of a young lady (rather ironically named “Payne”) who drowned herself after her boyfriend had forgotten to give her a gift for Valentine’s Day. It reads:
“On Saturday a young lady named Payne, chief of one of the departments of Mr. T. Beckett’s draper business at Peterborough, left the shop on some pretext, and a few minutes afterwards a messenger came in with a note from her saying that she had gone to drown herself. A search party was at once instituted, and her body was found floating in the River Nene, life being extinct. It is stated that she had some quarrel with her lover, and that not receiving a present on St. Valentine’s morning she so took it to heart that she resolved to commit suicide.”
This post originally appeared on MimiMatthews.com and is reprinted here with permission.
Mimi Matthews writes both non-fiction history and traditional historical romances set in 19th century England. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Beau Monde, Savvy Authors, and English Historical Fiction Authors, and is currently represented by Serendipity Literary Agency in New York. Her articles on 19th-century romance, literature, and history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. Mimi’s first non-fiction book, titled The Pug who Bit Napoleon and Other Animal Tales from the 18th and 19thCenturies, will be released by Pen and Sword Books (UK) in late 2017. Her second non-fiction book, titled A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, will be released by Pen and Sword in 2018. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney with both a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She resides in California with her family – which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.
Top photo: Valentine's Day Card, 1864 via Victoria & Albert Museum
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