WHEN I got the idea (as a break from my huge YA novel in progress), to write some Victorian pulp fiction for Fun, I knew I had to research. Stuff recalled from Holmes, Mary Poppins books, Paddington Bear (you get the drift), wasn't going to cut it. ;)
So I took about 3 months after conceiving of Dark Victorian: Risen to read 'foundation' books, ones that gave a very good overview of London---up to and even a little over the year 1880, when the Dark Victorian series is based.
As you can see in the books listed above, 'Victorian London' by Liza Picard was a good start, covering all the physical aspects of the city. Chapters are on 'Smells', 'The River (Thames)', 'The Streets', 'The Railways', etc, and covering social classes, sexes, food, clothes, health, and so forth.
Gilda O'Neill's 'The Good Old Days: Crime, Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London' was next, which was a well written read on the lifestyle (if it can be called that) of the poor, aspects of crime, with explanations of street and slang terms, sometimes on a personal level (O'Neill is perhaps descended from those who had to live in such conditions 120 yrs ago).
The venerable social study conducted by Henry Mayhew and gathered under different titles, one of which is 'The London Underworld', proved a sober read (especially as it's written in the period's style, and has that time period's privileged male attitude). But it's very comprehensive and being first-hand, as authentic as one can get. Mayhew had the bias of his class and sex, yet at times he could be very astute.
'Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photographs' by John Thomson is also a first-hand account of social conditions, which was a nice surprise and disregarding the earnest, florid writing style (again, of period), and desire to lend sympathy to its subjects, this is an extremely helpful 'on the street' look at the poorer people of London.
'City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London' has a very lurid title but is written in a very scholarly style. It's so academic, the dryness is hard to ingest. ;) But it presents certain theories or interpretations of the 'other' London that most books don't address. After wading through all the dryness I found these aspects very helpful in writing the darker London I wanted for RISEN.
All this reading happened around winter 2010, I think, then in 2011 I knocked out the novella-sized Dark Victorian: RISEN, and YES, it was fun. :D
“Way will open."
She is Artifice.
A resurrected criminal and agent of HRH Prince Albert’s Secret Commission.
An artificial ghost.
He is Jim Dastard.
The oldest surviving agent of the Secret Commission.
An animated skull.
A mentor to newly resurrected agents.
It is 1880 in a mechanical and supernatural London. Agents of Prince Albert’s Secret Commission, their criminal pasts wiped from their memories, are resurrected to fight the eldritch evils that threaten England. Amidst this turmoil, Jim Dastard and his new partner Artifice must stop a re-animationist raising murderous dead children. As Art and Jim pursue their quarry, Art discovers clues about her past self, and through meeting various intriguing women—a journalist, a medium, a prostitute, and a mysterious woman in black—where her heart lies. Yet the question remains: What sort of criminal was she? A new beginning, a new identity, and new dangers await Art as she fights for the Secret Commission and for her second life.