What Is the Difference Between Edwardian & Victorian Eras?

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A postcard of a lady in feminine, Edwardian attire.
A postcard of a lady in feminine, Edwardian attire.

The Victorian era began with Queen Victoria's ascent to the British throne in 1837 and ended with her death in 1901. The Edwardian era began with Queen Victoria's 59 year-old son, Edward VII's ascent to the British throne and ended with his death in 1910. There was a distinct shift in culture and fashion from Victorian to Edwardian times. In addition, each era had numerous technological advancements and famous people that influenced society.

  1. Culture

    • The Victorians embraced scientific discovery and exploration. They were fascinated about the world around them and sought to unlock nature's mysteries. They developed a strong sense of social obligation and equality, leading to the creation of the Salvation Army, the abolishment of slavery and the women's suffragette movement. With Queen Victoria's death ushering in the Edwardian age, oppressive Victorian formality and somberness lifted. Helping the less fortunate and striving for equality were continued themes in a more optimistic, care-free and accepting society.

    Fashion

    • Victorian women's wear was all about covering up any hint of femininity. With the roots of the women's movement firmly taking hold, Edwardian women stopped wearing the heavy, voluminous Victorian dresses, which gave them an artificial hour-glass shape. Many Edwardian dresses were made from light, lacy fabrics and now fitted the figure more closely. They no longer used the volumes of fabric of Victorian attire. All women's attire became more feminine in style, accenting the female figure.

    Technology and Inventions

    • The Victorian era produced many more marvelous scientific advances and inventions than ever before. These inventions include the automobile, the steamship, the light bulb, photography, Morse code, the telephone, the bicycle and the sewing machine. The Edwardians benefited most from these marvelous inventions because many of them were not in widespread use until that era. In addition, the Edwardian era witnessed many life-changing inventions. They include the airplane, the motion picture film, the refrigerator, the vacuum cleaner, the fire extinguisher, the radio, stainless steel and the air conditioner.

    Famous People

    • Famous Victorians include Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll, writers; John Keats and Emily Dickinson, poets; Florence Nightingale, the nurse; David Livingstone, the explorer; Alexander Bell, inventor of the telephone; Charles Darwin, the naturalist; and Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur, and Michael Faraday, scientists. Famous Edwardians include H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling and Beatrix Potter, writers; Claude Debussy, the composer, Emmeline Pankhurst, the suffragette; Lily Langtry and Marie Lloyd, actresses; Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio; and Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer.

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  • Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

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