Vinegar Valentines

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Valentine (c. 1870)

It may seem strange to us that Victorians sent each other Valentines like the one above, but send them they did. Read this post at Smithsonian.com for more information about and examples of “Vinegar Valentines.” Are these cards less surprising to you given the various plots of the novels we are reading? Why or why not? Can you imagine one of our characters sending one of these cards to another character? If so, who would send which card to whom? Why?

Comments section closes on Friday, February 17.

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One thought on “Vinegar Valentines

  1. When considering the novels we’ve read, it seems a bit less surprising that such valentine’s would have been popular around that period. The relationships described in “Framley Parsonage” and “The Woman in White” etc., are much more contrived, strategically pursued for the purpose of wealth or title. Personal feelings appear to be less important between potential suitors, so I suppose it’s appropriate that these harsh valentine’s would be exchanged without contrition. In other words, relationships were more shallow anyway. In addition, our modern society is much more politically correct than that of the Victorian era, so for us it is harder to imagine such a practice as this. I’m sure most can remember the seemingly standard policy in Elementary School whereby students who brought valentine’s to class on valentine’s had to bring enough for all. Perhaps we’re just more immune to this kind of social cruelty nowadays.

    I could envision Lady Lufton sending one of these “vinegar valentine’s” to Mr. Sowerby, given how she openly despises him. She makes no secret of her contempt for him and the company he keeps. And she is surely all the more put-off of his association with, or as she sees it the corruption of, her only son. If Lady Lufton were to express her disdain with Mr. Sowerby, it’d be unlikely to take him by surprise, as he is acutely aware of her feelings toward him.

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