The Edwardian Era

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    "It's grand to be an Englishman in 1910
    King Edward's on the throne, it's the age of men!"

    —George Banks, "The Life I Lead", Mary Poppins

    The long hot Indian summer between the death of Queen Victoria and the start of World War I. A time of elegant tea parties, absurd women's hats, Upper Class Wits, ridiculous Flying Machines and (mostly) unsinkable ships.

    Strictly the term Edwardian Era only applies to the reign of King Edward VII from 1901 to 1910, but it is usually extended up to the outbreak of war to capture the end of an era. Sometimes referred to in America as the Gilded Age, although that also covers the entire period from the end of Radical Reconstruction to the U.S. entry in WWI, roughly 1880 to 1917 (therefore incorporating The Gay Nineties).

    The subject of many nostalgic musical films featuring Gorgeous Period Dress from The Thirties through The Sixties (though The Fifties and The Sixties have many nostalgic settings featuring The Roaring Twenties), and the favorite period of the filmmaking team Merchant-Ivory. The page illustration is a good example of what the well-dressed Edwardian lady wore; note the large, elaborately decorated hats, S-curve silhouette (produced by the style of corset popular in that decade) and elbow-length white kid gloves.

    (Take note, however, that there was a significant change in women's fashion about 1909 or 1910, dividing the era into two segments fashion-wise. After 1910, women's dresses tended to be simpler and more flowing in design, reminiscent of Regency-era dresses; tailored suits and dresses were very popular at this point, and the "Gibson girl" pompadour hairstyle faded away, to be replaced by simpler hairdos with a lot of curls, and bobbed hair and cloche hats were on their prototype forms. These years were the glory days of the so-called "Merry Widow" hat, the huge, elaborately decorated hats mentioned above. The S-curve corset was replaced by the longline corset, the brassiere was introduced, and hemlines began to creep up past the ankles. The sharp-eyed viewer will be able to get a good idea of when in the period a movie or TV show is set by observing the ladies' couture. You can take it as a given that any production recounting the story of the Titanic where the women are wearing puffy sleeves and S-curve corsets - unless the character in question is designated as being behind the times fashion-wise - is an example of Did Not Do the Research.)

    Tropes featured in this period are:

    Examples of The Edwardian Era include:

    Anime & Manga

    • Fullmetal Alchemist is set in an often anachronistic alternate universe version of the Edwardian era.


    • The setting of many of Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girl" drawings (he actually was active from the late 1880's to the 1920's, ending his career as editor-in-chief of Life magazine just before it switched to its better-known photojournalism format, but the Gibson Girl is indelibly associated with both The Gay Nineties and The Edwardian Era). Harrison Fisher and Henry Hutt were other popular artists of the period who specialized in depicting ladies' fashions.
    • The general setting of Edward Gorey's macabre illustrations.
    • Late Art Nouveau and other modernist movements.

    Comic Books



    • PG Wodehouse (1881-1975) began his writing career in this era; while his later stories are mostly set in an unspecified era between the two wars, they also have a distinctly Edwardian feeling.
    • Late Sherlock Holmes stories (1887-1927).
      • The TV movie Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady, set in Vienna during the last years of Franz Josef's reign, with Morgan Fairchild as Irene Adler.
    • Part 'of 'The Irish RM series (1899-1915) took place in this decade.
    • Arsène Lupin. The literary series started in July, 1905.
    • The Wind in the Willows (1908), both the original and most adaptations
    • The Father Brown series started in September, 1910.
    • Fantomas. The novel series started in 1911.
    • The novel Peter Pan (1911), at least the parts not in Neverland (it was written during that era)
    • Death in Venice (1912).
    • The Lost World (1912)
    • Tarzan. The series of novels started in 1912.
    • Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder. The original short-story collection was published in 1913.
    • Fu Manchu. The series of novels started in 1913.
    • Maurice. Written in 1913, though only published in 1971.
    • The Monster Men: about 1913
    • Pellucidar. The series started in April, 1914. Featuring modern era adventurers traveling to an underground world.
    • Jeeves and Wooster. The short story series started in 1915.
    • Of Human Bondage (1915) takes place in the pre-war era.
    • The epilogue to The Age of Innocence (1920) is set in this era.
    • Cheri (1920) features a female lead from this era.
    • Much of Edward Gorey (1925-2000)'s work evokes Edwardian England through its visual style and peculiar linguistic flair, though the author himself was born and lived out his life in Massachusetts.
    • Most of Betsy Tacy series (1940-1955), which begins in 1897 and ends with the protagonists' husbands getting ready to go fight WWI.
    • The events of The Magician's Nephew (1955) take place in this era, at least the parts set on Earth.
    • The American Girl Samantha Parkington (1986), though she's described as Victorian, is actually from this era. Her story is set from 1904 to 1907.
    • The Doctor Who Virgin New Adventures novel Human Nature (1995), which was later adapted by the novel's author into the TV story "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood". The Doctor spends some time as a history teacher at an Edwardian school.
    • Tipping the Velvet (1998) is set at the very end of the Victorian Era and (possibly) the beginning of the Edwardian.
    • A Series of Unfortunate Events(1999-2006) seems to take version in either the Edwardian Era or in a Retro Universe based on it.

    Live Action TV

    Newspaper Comics


    Theme Parks

    Video Games

    • Red Dead Redemption.
      • Even though most of the locations the plot takes place at is visibly stuck in The Victorian Era (which is Truth in Television). It is quite interesting to, in the beginning of the game, leave the urban world of automobiles, Homburgs and federal agents and enter the rural one of carriages, pipe cylinders and cowboys.
    • BioShock Infinite takes place in an alternate history 1912, in the flying city of Columbia. Much of the setting is based on American culture and attitudes at the time.

    Western Animation

    Works made, but not set, during the Edwardian era
    • The Scarlet Pimpernel. The first novel of the series was published in 1905. The setting is The French Revolution.
    • John Carter of Mars. First appeared in February, 1912. The events of the original novel started in 1866.
    • Doctor Syn. The character first appeared in 1915. Otherwise fits with the adventure tales of this era. The series is set in the 18th century.