Your Family History - - Snapshots -

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.

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