Victorian London

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Land of fog-shrouded streets, Cockney flower girls, soot-faced urchins, friendly Bobbies, and Sherlock Holmes. Also home to Jack the Ripper, so you'd best mind your step while walking through Whitechapel, unless you want to wind up lying on a marble slab with some grim-faced police detective from Scotland Yard inspecting your corpse.

Fortunately, if you're in trouble and the situation is strange and interesting, Holmes might give a deep discount on his fees to take your case, especially if there is a hint that Professor Moriarty is involved. Mind you, Scotland Yard is getting better at detection since the Ripper embarrassment (not to mention Holmes constantly showing them up), as up-and-coming police detectives like Sgt. Cribb get to show what they can do.

Be on the lookout also for wispy, top-hatted Vampires wearing long black capes. A run-in with one of those could leave you floating in the Thames with a pair of holes in your neck and your body drained of blood. Other things to avoid are opium dens and any evil cultists, Mad Scientists, creepy Egyptologists, or Wax Museum curators who seem to have a more-than-proper interest in your girlfriend. On the other hand, if you meet a man with a bag on his head and a strong speech impediment, be nice to him.

Speaking of more-than-proper... you'd better watch your step, guv'nor, as the moral tone of this period is, well, positively Victorian. If you're a woman, prepare to be able to defend your 'virtue' literally with your life. Conversely, if you're a man, be aware that any tampering at all with this fragile commodity may lead to 'either marriage, or breach of promise [lawsuit]!' Of course, underneath all this middle-class repression, everybody—well, everybody male, anyway—is a sex-mad brothel patron, the seedier the better, so it may not be all bad.

Other hallmarks of this period include fussy overstuffed parlours, big-eyed waifs locked in sadistic boarding schools and workhouses who are forced to labor 23½ hours a day for a mere crust of bread, jolly people singing Christmas carols, old misers who yell "Humbug!", women in big poofy elaborate dresses, and big scary gothic halls. Is also an era prone to the most unbelievable coincidences, especially when it comes to X character being the secret father/brother/best friend's sister's former roommate of Y character. Things can also get cloyingly sentimental at times.

Apart from the vampires (probably) and perhaps the coincidences, a lot of this is disturbingly accurate. (The Fog was accurate, but was caused by all the coal smoke; as pointed out on Mad Men it's not a permanent climate and is now long gone.) The Victorian Era also happened in the rest of the country, of course, but as we all know Britain Is Only London.

It is also the de facto default setting for Steampunk stories.

Popular tropes from this time period are
Examples of Victorian London include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
  • From Hell.
  • French comics Basil and Victoria (and the cartoon adaptation, renamed Orson and Olivia).
  • French comics Professor Bell, by Joann Sfar.
  • Predator: Nemesis. Ex-British Army Captain Soames is enlisted by Mycroft Holmes and the Diogenes Club to investigate a grisly massacre in an opium den, the killer being identified as "Rakshasa" by the sole survivor. The killer is the same Predator Soames encountered in India years before. Sherlock Holmes is mentioned (Soames is enlisted mainly because Sherlock is "out of the country at the moment", and it's implied that Mycroft is aware of Soames previous encounter) as well as Jack the Ripper, whom is initially thought to be the culprit by Soames, and is strongly implied by Mycroft to have been killed by the Diogenes Club, but the details of his identity and his exact fate are kept secret from the public.



  • Dracula (the Bram Stoker novel) and many of its adaptations.
  • Ankh-Morpork on Discworld, except it's more like modern New York set in Victorian London. With dwarfs. And trolls. There's even a few neurotic vampires with hilarious accents.
  • The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Many of the works of Charles Dickens:
    • A Christmas Carol
    • David Copperfield
    • Oliver Twist
      • Not all of them, technically speaking, though. Little Dorrit takes place in 1826 and The Pickwick Papers in 1827-8, in the Georgian Era. Those were published in the Victorian years, though, and at least once Dickens made an anachronistic reference to "Her Majesty" or some other development that had taken place between the time they were set and the time he was writing.
  • A Little Princess
  • The Time Machine and most of its adaptations feature this as the Time Traveler's own era.
  • The War of the Worlds centers around the exodus of London at one point. And it's where the Martians die. In 1898.
  • The Witch Watch is set here for the most part.
  • Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody stories start in this period and move through The Gay Nineties into World War I. But Amelia and her husband (though notably not her children) retain their Victorian London sensibilities throughout. Most of their adventures actually happen in Egypt, as they are archaeologists.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Anne Perry's mystery novels are very conscious attempts to subvert the common Victorian stereotypes, by playing up the tension between façade and the reality of human emotion. When this works, it works brilliantly; however, when it doesn't, the result tends to be lurid melodrama that makes Le Fanu look plausible.
  • The second trilogy of the Welkin Weasels depicts a furry version of Sherlock Holmes—not connected in any way to The Great Mouse Detective, but a weasel by the name of Montegu Sylver—living in a Victorian London Fantasy Counterpart Culture full of furries.
  • Darkness Visible.
  • Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series.
  • Molly Hughes' A London Family trilogy does for middle-class London what Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford did for rural England at largely the same time (1870s-90s). Thompson and Hughes even wrote their books at the same time (1930s).
  • The Arcane Society novels written by Amanda Quick fall into this era, whereas the Jayne Ann Krentz novels are modern era and Jayne Castle are futuristic.
  • Sarah Waters' The Fingersmith, published in 2002 and made into a BBC drama in 2005, is a gay and lesbian take on the setting, with dips into the mental health tropes of the era, including a stereotypical Bedlam House plot and a man after an inheritance.
  • One of the downtime locations of Time Scout. The two latter books take place during Jack the Ripper's tour de force.
  • The Gemma Doyle series takes place here.
  • The Infernal Devices, prequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments series takes place here.

Live-Action TV


  • The cello rock band Rasputina uses imagery from this period in their songs, and their website even claims that the band was created in 1891.


  • Radio comedy series Bleak Expectations parodies this trope up one side of the workhouse and down the other.

Tabletop Games

  • One of the domains of Ravenloft, the city of Paridon, aptly enough for a gothic setting, is Victorian London, including a Jack the Ripper Expy.
    • The Ravenloft: Gothic Earth setting is entirely set in the Victorian Era, and centres on London.
  • The appropriately-titled Victoriana RPG, from Cubicle 7 Games, uses this setting (with a few fantasy modifications) as a jumping-off point.


Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

Other Media

  • The tourist attraction The London Dungeons in London has some area's themed this way.