WE ARE AMUSED
We have Queen Victoria to thank, of course, for the lasting impression that the Victorians were not humorous individuals – although even the quote ascribed to her – ‘We are not amused’ – may be apocryphal anyway. But why would we assume that the Victorians had no sense of humour? Humour is a natural human emotion, and unlikely to have only developed in very recent times! In fact, there ARE many surviving images of smiling or laughing Victorians and Edwardians, showing that they were capable of having as good a time as we are today. These
might not have been the photos preserved and displayed by our ancestors, however, as it was the serious portraits that were rated higher, particularly if they had been the result of a financial expense in terms of a visit to a photographic studio.
There is even a surviving image of Queen Victoria herself smiling, putting paid to the view of her as a mournful, stern-faced monarch. The image, which dates from 1887, was used on a carte de visite and headed ‘Her Majesty’s Gracious Smile’. In fact, she doesn’t look terribly gracious – more impish, and one can imagine her having a good laugh with her family.