‘Silver fork’ fiction (also called ‘fashionable’ fiction) was a popular genre from the 1820s to the 1840s which is hardly studied at all today. One of the primary purposes of silver fork fiction was to provide middle-class readers with an inside view to high society, with each novel giving semi-satirical guides for upper class behaviour. This advice covers all aspects of aristocratic life, from clothing and beauty tips, to the treatment of servants, house décor, courtship protocol, dueling, politics, and more. The advice simultaneously gave the middle classes the information they needed to emulate the aristocracy while at the same time often satirizing the aristocracy.
With the gracious help of The Hunterian and the University of Glasgow’s Special Collections, I have read all of the 75 rare silver fork novels that they hold (further details on the silver fork novels at the University of Glasgow can be found here). My goal is to improve general knowledge of these novels by gathering all of the fashionable advice they have to offer and compiling an etiquette guide of the most humorous, outdated, and contradictory advice found in these novels.
A link to the Hunterian Associates Programme, of which this project is a part, can be found here.