the year 1895?

Hello helpful history hounds,

I'm writing a book set in London, 1895. The characters of the book include; a small business owner, a toy maker, a soldier. I am starting to do some research but before I do, just wondering if anyone could give me any of the following:

- any events that occured during that year, or the previous years, that would have been significant to people in general

- anything that would be significant to these three people specifically. How would toys be made a this point? Was it still a craft rather than an industry? Did children get toys for Christmas?

- fashion. what would these three people wear? Did the army still wear the red coats at this point? Wasn't the first Boer war around this time?

- any further reading to help me get more details of the above points.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Sep 2008
Not sure if any of this is releavant to your book but here's some 1895 events.

- Volleyball was invented (although called something different at the time) in America.

- In February the UK (Aberdeenshire) recorded the coldest temperature ever at -17 degrees. It stood until the 1980s.

- Oscar Wild's last play was shown in London. He's also arrested and sentenced the same year.

- Rugby League was formed in England.

- Roseberry resigns after defeat in the House of Commons over the supply of cordite to the army. Salisbury takes over as Prime Minister.

- Jameson Raid.


Historum Emeritas
Jul 2006
-Jewish French officer Dreyfus is arrested on suspicion of spying for Germany in 1871
-Severe earthquake in southwestern US
-X-ray machine invented
-More motor cars (though still for the rich only)
-Wilde's new play The Importance of Being Ernest is on in theaters
-Lilienthal is flying his gliders (killed in an accident the next year)
-First Rugby League game at Huddersfield
-London School of Economics opens
-Japs win Sino-Japanese War
-Engels, Pasteur, Huxley, Beecher, Douglass die
-The future George VI and Grand Duchess Olga of Russia are born

The Boer war started in 1899 so the army would still be wearing red coats in 1895. Khaki was only worn in the field. When on duty the soldier would wear a spiked helmet resembling a pickelhaube. Off-duty he'd wear a Glengarry forage cap.
The businessman would wear a black frock coat (sign of mourning for Prince Albert), cravat and expensive brocade vest. When outside he'd also have a cane, top hat and gloves
The toymaker would wear loose-fitting work clothes: a sack coat, a flat cap and apron (when working)


Forum Staff
Mar 2008
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
In 1885:
A soldier might have been been gossiping with his mates about the new automatic machine gun invented by Hiram Maxim in 1884. I can see a scene of where one who saw a demonstration imitates the 'chattering' sound and his mates in denial, "No way, no gun can shoot that fast." Or with incredulity, "What? Even faster that a Gatling?"
The street gossip might have been about the passing of former president U.S. Grant.
Maybe the toy maker went on holiday to France and saw an artist working on a painting that came to be called "The Potato Eaters". He may have hated it and wondered what modern art was coming to.
Or our toymaker being a succesfull business man may have taken holiday in Germany and heard the premier of Brams Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98.
And surely every street was a buzz with talk of the first electrical tram car in Blackpool.
Maybe one of your characters breathless relates, returning from France, how he saw a boy get bit by a rabid dog and was sure to die, but this doctor (whose name he mispronounces) scratched him with a needle and the boy didn't die. People hearing this get it wrong and the myth of accupuncture is born.
Some people are upset that Victor Hugo dies, others could care less. and so it goes.
Volume two of Das Capital is posthumously published.
The Mormons split into polygamous and monogamous sections. Common gossip at the time? Something Conad Doyle picked up on? Which resulted in his including a long section on the Mormons in his first book A Study in Scarlet published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887.
Is this the kind of stuff you are looking for?
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Forum Staff
Mar 2008
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
(Correction to Nick) Pasteurs dates are Dec. 27, 1882 to Sept. 28, 1895.
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Pedro and Nick,

some excellent info... thanks! It's all going to help as the devil is in the detail and it's the little things that people pick up on so don't want to get anything wrong. Going to use what you've given me to do some internet research. What a way to spend a Friday night.



Historum Emeritas
Jul 2006
Don't forget the less pleasant side to 19th century London as many people make the mistake of looking back at the Victorian era with rose-tinted glasses.
In reality there was: smog from industry, overcrowded slums, polluted Thames, risk of disease (typhus, cholera), poverty (families unable to afford food and firewood in winter), criminal gangs who would rob and sometimes kill (slums and alleys were no-go areas at night), no electric street lighting (just gas lamp posts and lanterns)
Sorry, I didn't mention that the book centres round Christmas, which is why I was going on about Dickens. Apparently he had a big part in shapping the modern idea of Christmas which is why I've been reading a lot about him.

Anyway, concerning the soldier. He's recently retired, but I don't want him to be too old or really injured (so not that he was forced into retirement by losing an arm or anything) At what age would a soldier have retired at this time? Can anyone think of any injury which would make him retire but mean he could function normally?