Strange Victorian Occupations for Women

They were wives, yes. They were mothers.

But Victorian women accomplished a great deal more than marriage and offspring. The most expensive Fabergé Imperial Egg was created by a 25-year-old female employee named Alma Pihl. Ada Lovelace created the world’s first computer program. Of course, Victoria was the Queen of England and Empress of India.

Not all professions were quite so glamorous. A myriad of strange occupations came to be in the Victorian Era. Why, you could even find employment in delivering meat to cats!

Professional Mourner

Dressed in black and weeping for a stranger, professional mourners followed the hearse to the graveyard. The mutes (as they were called) bolstered the importance of the deceased for all appearances.

Victorian funerals asserted a final show of respect and status.

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Modern transportation was once thought to have abated the profession. In more recent years, professional mourners have been reintroduced to the procession of funerals and employment steadily increases.

Fasting GirlUntitled design-59

A peculiar fascination swept England at word of Molly Fancher’s diet. The poor girl had been diagnosed with dyspepsia at six and ten.  But it wasn’t until age nineteen she resolved to abstain from food. . . indefinitely.

Imagine! Not eating for seven weeks. Or, at least seven weeks if the rumors were to be believed.

This fast of little to no food seemingly sustained Fancher for the next fourteen years.

Her claims were highly suspected. The public and, among them, doctors wished to authenticate her lifestyle with testing. Although many stories of fasting girls to follow ended with a scathing reveal, Fancher’s diet was unverified at her death.

Box Jumper

More commonly known as magician assistants, the moniker is derived from a step of illusions. Typically female, a box jumper was tasked with being packaged into a box then “jumping” from one box to another in a disappearing/reappearing act.

This occupation required svelte and limber entertainers to accommodate for the physical demands of illusions.

Pray tell. What is the strangest occupation you’ve held?

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