Tarrin (tarrinthetree) wrote in little_details,

Fences in Victorian London; plausibility of mixed-race children in Victorian London

Time/Place: London, early 1850's, plus various magic
Searches: Google/wiki searches for all the place names mentioned, poking about on victorianlondon.org, various maps, my own books on the subject (which were all available at local bookstore/library and thus are hardly exhaustive)

1. I have a character who is a fence. He buys and sells goods that may or may not be legitimate. I need to know where he would likely be in Victorian London. From my research, Petticoat Lane seems to be the place to be; however, I don't want him/his shop in a place surrounded by other similarly dubious enterprises. So is there another place where such a shop could be located? From my poking about (again, hardly exhaustive!), Clerkenwell seems like it might be a decent shot. I want the shop to be in a working class, bordering on poor, district. I want my monolingual English characters to be able to talk to most of their neighbors. And this needs to be an area that such a shop might have existed in for as much as 100 years prior.

2. Same character, as of now, has a daughter by a half-Indian woman. At the moment, I have the backstory set up that the half-Indian woman, S, is the daughter of a low-ranking army official posted in India who was brought back after he left the army. I don't need any more specific details, but is this plausible? Furthermore, how would she (and eventually, her quarter-Indian daughter) be seen in day-to-day life? Anyone who knows anything about them knows that they are entirely disreputable by the standards of the time, but the middle class generally doesn't know anything about them. So would people who didn't know them react differently to them on the street? In a shop? S looks Indian--dark skin and black hair; her daughter is lighter-skinned, dark haired, and hazel eye'd.

3. About how far behind current styles could S's daughter (19 at this point) dress? This is before crinolines, I believe. Could she get away with fewer petticoats/flounces than is ordinary? She can afford to dress in current fashions--her family is better off than they appear, but they have to keep living/working in the same building for a number of reasons--but she doesn't particularly want to. She isn't on the marriage market, because she doesn't want to be, and her father is odd enough that he allows this. If it's likely that she'll dress according to current fashions, that's OK; I just want to know how irritated she's going to be about her clothes.


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