The Story is About + Violet Haberdasher

Violet Haberdasher

Violet Haberdasher


  • Knightley Academy

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Henry Grim has never been in trouble for borrowing a sword from the headmaster’s private stores. He has never discovered a forbidden room in a foreign castle or received a death threat over breakfast.

All Henry knows is life as an orphaned servant boy at the Midsummer School, bullied by the privileged sons of aristocracy. But all that changes when Henry is the first commoner to pass the entrance exam for the prestigious Knightley Academy, where he will be trained as a modern-day knight alongside the cleverest and bravest fourteen-year-olds in the country.

Henry and his roommates, two other students from decidedly un-Knightley backgrounds, are not exactly greeted with open arms by their classmates. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that someone is going to great lengths to sabotage the trio’s chances at becoming knights. But Henry soon learns that there is more at stake than his future at Knightley, and only Henry can sound the alarm. Is anyone going to believe a former servant on the brink of expulsion?

Today I have a guest post from the FABULOUS Violet Haberdasher! I absolutely love her! Her new novel Knightly Academy is set in Victorian England. I thought it would be a little fun, if Violet shared some of what she learned about the time period from the research for her novel.

A Brief History, Literature and Trivia Lesson Comprised Mostly of Odd Victorian Tidbits

In order to imagine, and eventually write, Knightley Academy, I had to become quite knowledgeable about Victorian England. Luckily, I chose the era as my undergraduate focus, so I had access to Columbia’s wonderful Rare Book and Manuscript Library, not to mention some phenomenal courses.

What has always struck me about the Victorian Era is that it is the beginning of modern society. Before the Victorian era, criminal codes were severe and public executions were commonplace. There was a general hostility toward the law, and everyone cheered on the rebel who defied his unjust oppression (think of the French Revolution). Society was, in a word, dystopian. And then, in the early nineteenth century, the middle classes became upwardly mobile and reformed the legal code. They made the law into an agent for reforming criminals rather than overpowering them. The police became enforcers of the social order, and the rebel became a common criminal.

London itself became a sort of character often personified in literature. Victorian Society gave birth to public transportation, trains, child labor laws, germ theory, advertisements, public health initiatives, policemen, photography and detective work as we know them today. Some of my favorite stories and poems have come out of the Victorian era: Alice in Wonderland, Goblin Market, The Lady of Shalott, Dracula, Frankenstein, everything by Charles Dickens, and of course the Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

I feel like I’ve given you a horrible history lesson when you were expecting swashbuckling teenaged knight detectives, so I’ll try to end this with some interesting pieces of trivia I’ve come across whilst researching:

1. A man called Paul Reuter discovered that pigeons with messages attached to their feet could send messages faster than post train. Since telegraph lines were just being built, this discovery of the carrier pigeon gave Reuter the fastest access to news from the Paris Stock Exchange, and allowed him to found Reuters news.

2. The painter John Ruskin insisted he be tied to the mast of a ship during a great storm in the dead of winter in order to be able to accurately paint the drama of a fierce snowstorm. His painting, Snow Storm - Steamboat off a Harbour's Mouth exhibited in 1947.

3. The first subway, or tube line, opened in 1863 in London. It was called the Metropolitan line and had no windows and buttoned upholstery that earned subway carriages the nickname “padded cells.”

4. The Anatomy Act 1832 gave license to medical students to dissect donated bodies. This act was passed due to an illegal trade in corpses and the actions of the Resurrectionists, who stole bodies from graves in order to sell them to the medical profession, which received only 2 or 3 corpses a year as an unfortunate side effect of fewer people being sentenced to the gallows.

5. When Queen Victoria received Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, she insisted that she be sent the next book that Mr. Carroll produced. Carroll, who was actually a lecturer in mathematics named Charloes Lutwidge Dodgson, presented her wit a copy of his Elementary Treatise on Determinants, with Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraical Geometry.

Thanks so much Violet for stopping by and for sharing some fascinating facts about Victorian England!

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