I came across one of the most bizarre facts I’ve ever learned about Victorians in my research for Rules of Engagement, the eighth book in the Scandalous Scions series, which I finished just a few days ago.
In the late Victorian period, one of the most popular activities among the ton was mummy unwrapping parties!
These are literally what they sound like. The host would invite guests, and acquire an actual mummy, from God knows where. Guests would drink and chat as they unwrapped the mummy.
All things Egyptian were super sexy during this period. Victorians were fascinated with the Egyptians, their troves of treasure, and the artifacts they left behind. Guest lecturers toured England, giving talks and showing artifacts. Intrepid British explorers were digging up pyramids and tombs. The fad would last well into the 1930s, until the Second World War gave England a different set of priorities.
The national obsession with antiquities fuelled the fashion for mummy unwrapping parties. They became so popular, in fact, that brochures were printed and handed out to society members, advising them on how to ensure that the mummy they acquired was the genuine article.
There was a brisk trade in fake mummies!
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