Dec232010

The Etiquette of Proper Introductions in Victorian Times

And now, look at this! A proper blog! I know, you thought it would never happen. And on Christmas Eve! I’ll catch you all, my sweetie darlings, on the flip side of the holidays. I’m off on my annual retreat from the madness.

The Etiquette of Proper Introductions in Victorian Times

There are all sorts of rules for introductions in Victorian society, Gentle Reader. Basically, the person whose name you say first is the more important person, to whom the other is being made known. The inferior is introduced to the superior.

“Duke Hematol, may I introduce Dr. Caedes?”

The duke out ranks the doctor.

However, this can get very confusing because aside from rank and social standing (see the Table of Precedence or precedence of attendance) there are also other rules to abide by (see laws/rules of precedence). For example:

A younger person is introduced to an older person.
“Mr. Rabiffano, Mr. Shabumpkin would like to make your acquaintance.”

A man is introduced to a woman.
“Mrs. Tunstell, please allow me to present Mr. Bootbottle-Fipps.”

And so forth.

So what happens if you have an older woman of little or no rank and a young nobleman? Or two women, the younger of which is married to an earl and the older to a squire? Or what happens if you throw long lived immortals into the mix?

Alexia struggles with just such a situation in the fifth book, Timeless. She must introduce a young lady werewolf whose rank she knows, to an older noble vampire who holds rank (but she is not privy to the particulars). Because he is a vampire and it is his house, she gives him precedence. But she could have reversed the order, especially if she wanted to give insult to the vampire or establish her own allegiance with the werewolves.

A world of damage can be done or avoided simply by reordering an introduction.

I never go into any of this in my books, because it is mere minutia to those who are reading for plot and story. But it is one of those things that, if you know how the era works, sometimes I am having fun with the undercurrents that may result. It certainly can effect character.

So now that you know, when Timeless comes out, you may get a little extra from that particular scene. Of course, you have Heartless to get through first . . .

(I should note that precedence is not confined to the upper ranks alone: see precedence in the servant’s hall.) Also, here is a wonderful description of an American diplomat’s opinion of a true British nobleman.

Quick note:
My gratitude to all and sundry for your sympathetic attempts to help with Monday’s Crisis De’jour. I do live near Silicon Valley and I have had the experts on the case. The data really is gone, the combination of a flash drive, my stupidity, and Windows. (Yes, I do regular backups. I was away from my desk for 4 days. I used a thumb drive, that was where the error snuck in. I cannot use an online backup or Dropbox for security reasons.) I have learned my lesson. It’s all OK. I can rewrite it. In fact I mostly have. Thank you for all your suggestions and especially for your sympathy. I learned how to make crepes as a result. So it’s not all bad.

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Beautiful Victorian costume resource site.
Your Writerly Tinctures:Writing Excuses Podcast discusses Steampunk with Scott Westerfeld

All the Books I Can Read says, “This was a really surprising read. I’ve seen plenty of reviews around and actually, I’d always kind of held off reading this because it had seemed a bit too odd for me and a confusing mix of many genres and sub-genres. But the extra touches, the ‘oddness’ was what I came to love about it as I was reading.”
SPOILER ALERT! Eclectic Eccentric says, “I adored Soulless, the steampunk paranormal mystery romance novel was wonderful fun, and in my opinion, Changeless is just as good.”
Even bigger SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first. Books in the Spotlight says, “I love the Parasol Protectorate series. It’s incredibly witty and smart with the right amount of steampunk and paranormal to keep me entertained.”

Heartless: Finished draft 8, turned in! It’s available for preorder on Amazon.
Timeless: Whimper.
Secret Project F: We’re waiting. We’re waiting.

Quote of the Day:
“What is it about Seattle and coffee? It’s not like they actually can grow it or anything.” ~ Me
“Maybe it’s the only way anyone up there survives.” ~ Dan

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