Victorian Inventors

victorian invention 4I don’t see what all the fuss is about — the upset readers who want to know what on earth I’m doing, with my Victorian characters sending telegraphs and fastening zippers.

Considering DaVinci invented a machine gun, diving suit, and helicopter before Shakespeare wore diapers, you might not be impressed to hear vacuum cleaners were in use by 1899.

Perhaps we like to think of 19th-century England — the backdrop of beloved romantic stories by Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters — as a rustic, simple time. Truth be told, inventors were hard at work.

Here are a few inventions that came earlier than you might have guessed:

Coal-powered motorcycle, 1867

Riveted denim overalls by Levi Strauss, 1873

Subway train in London, called the “Tube,” 1870

Graphite Pencil, 1564

Screwdriver, 1400s

DaVinci's model of an armored tank. Did you know modern scientists have been assembling prototypes from DaVinci's plans, and a lot of them actually work?

DaVinci’s model of an armored tank. Did you know modern scientists have been assembling prototypes from DaVinci’s plans, and a lot of them actually work?

Did you know the Egyptians invented the marshmallow? And the Aztecs accidently invented chocolate in 1100 BC while trying to make beer. Batteries were developed since 1775. Carbonated beverage dates before the 1700s.

Louis Pasteur broke ground on Germ Theory in the 1860s, prompting the wild idea amongst the medical community that it might be a good idea to wash their hands before handling patients.

Then perhaps it’s no wonder that Andrew Tilmore, the financial prodigy in The King of Threadneedle Street uses a telegraph… which was invented in 1794, long before Samuel Morse’s electric system went online in 1844.

Inventors are truly a visionary bunch. Then why wasn’t toilet paper invented until 1857, I wonder? And what took the Married Women’s Property Act so long? England didn’t decide that a woman’s property was her own and not her husband’s until 1870. Probably for the same reason steam-powered elevators were in use in London by 1823, yet the elevator brake wasn’t invented until 1854. Go figure. 


  1. Wow. Do folks not know that authors do their research before they even start putting things together like technology?
    Very disappointed in them.

    • Well, sometimes I do make a bonafide mistake and a savvy reader calls me out for it, which I suppose is fair game. I do think it’s not as well known how quickly technology developed in the late 1800s. My books set in the 1870s are more related to the world we imagine in Sherlock Holmes than Jane Austen’s (Regency era).

  2. Reblogged this on doingsomereading and commented:
    A very good post about inventions/ technology and their appearances in Victorian and Regency romances.

  3. Good post.

  4. LOL – okay, some people take life way to seriously! And I’m guessing that instead of doing their own research they just posted snide remarks and comments. People, we all think we know so much and we really know so very little!

    • Well here’s a savvy reader – pretty sure you just quoted Socrates, Kate. Something about “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” (paraphrasing, apologies for any errors) And amen to not being too serious. Guilty as charged!

  5. Excellent post. There are always those who think sniping at others will make them appear more intelligent. Glad you didn’t let it get you down. There are MANY more supportive authors and readers out there than detractors. I think your books are very well-researched and indicative of the period and setting you’ve chosen. So there.

    • Yay! Kaki’s “in the house.” Thanks for stopping by. I have BEHIND HIS BLUE EYES finally, plan to start it this weekend, and I’m really excited! There’s a “Kaki Warner” shelf at my library, and it makes me proud when I see it, even though it’s YOUR books there, hehe. Reviews… yeah, the first half dozen bad ones I got were devastating. I thought my face was on fire, and it wouldn’t go away. Now most of those snarky reviews are water on this duck’s back, with the occasional sad twinge when a bad review has some truth to it. To each her own, I suppose. The ones complaining about errors that actually are correct bug me, I’ll admit. And btw thanks for the kind words ❤ You're always so supportive. *gush*

      • Stop gushing. And whining. You’ve haven’t lived until you have someone post on a very popular blog that “Ms Warner is so lacking in talent, I’m amazed she’s won any awards at all.” That really hurt until a month later when I won a RITA. Sweeet. But it also showed me how foolish I was to let one unkind comment get me down. Continue to write well…that’s the best revenge.

  6. I think to make a negative comment is just plain stupid. Why for? Even if there was an error, so what…we all make mistakes! I worked for lawyers for years and all they did was complain about this and that, just to show off they had more power and made more money than us legal secretaries. I don’t think they liked me pointing out their grammatical and spelling errors! These negative commenters sound like lawyers. 🙂

  7. jeff7salter says:

    great stuff here. I’ve seen several documentaries (as well as articles) about some of DaVinci’s drawings brought to life. He was a true genius. Albeit a troubled one…

Go ahead, tell us what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: