My compendious website of Victoriana www.victorianlondon.org is officially ten years old this week. So here's some not-so-fascinating facts about the site, and (not really) a competition for the artistically inclined ...
- I started the site because I was writing a historical novel, and wanted to compile all the fascinating snippets of Victorian stuff I was finding in books. My original idea was simply to create a meta-index of all the indexes in my non-fiction reading. But that was tedious. So I began scanning the full text of Victorian documents. That was tedious too, but I'm a librarian by training, so I stuck with it. At some point between 2001 and 2011, it started to get out of hand. I will leave you to decide when.
- I have written six or seven novels using the site as my electronic brain, but many more successful authors have found it rather handy. For example, it's credited in Michael Cox's The Meaning of Night and, most recently, Anthony Horowitz's The House of Silk. I do not receive their royalties. Boo.
- The site was originally hosted on stokenewington.junglelink.co.uk for a few months in 2001 ... sites like this http://www.maberly.name/links.htm may need updating.
- My best random connection was when a reader, searching the web, noticed an article on the site. It mentioned in passing a Victorian worthy who kept two inkstands made from the hooves of his favourite horses (as you do) engraved with the horses' names, in his office. The reader in question was the man's grandson and recalled the inkstands very welll from his grandfather's house; but, until then, he had never before understood why his grandfather treasured them, or what the names meant. You perhaps had to be there. Of course, now, I cannot find the article in question. I have the nagging doubt that I may have made this up.
- My worst recollection related to www.victorianlondon.org is being persuaded to give what I thought was an informal chat to a class of history students at Dulwich College. It turned out to be the entire lower sixth, although, being Dulwich College, the year was called something antique and intimidating, like 'The Relieve'. More accurate would have been 'The Nose-Picking, Living-Dead-Eyed-Is-it-Lunch-Yet-Who-is-this-schmuck-Hormonal Teens'. I blame the parents. I still cannot pass Dulwich without a brief shudder. Not my finest hour.
- The best thing that www.victorianlondon.org has obtained for me, apart from an enormous sense of spiritual peace and physical well-being [*WARNING: Site does not contain an enormous sense of spiritual peace and physical well-being] is two weeks in Perth, Australia, giving lectures to retireees and wandering around the Antipodes. I enjoyed both the lectures and the trip to a guilty degree.
- The site currently averages 1,612 visitors a day.
- Some recent questions asked of Google that led people to the site:
- why was victorian london smelly?
- who was queen in victorian london?
- what would a victorian maid call her master?
- what were the toilet habits of the victorians?
Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
- I am pretty sure that site usage peaked in about 2005. I have some stats here http://www.victorianlondon.org/stats.htm which show a clear dip, although the current visitor numbers are not remotely comparable, as Webalizer is infinitely less reliable than Google Analytics, which I now use, and has always seemed to return about x3 what Google tells you. The reason for my certainty is more the numbers of emails which I receive, which is much fewer - my guess is that people spend less time 'browsing' the web at random for interesting and cool stuff, and more time on social media.
- That said, site visitors still come from all over the world ... here's a map from the last month ...
As you can see, Mongolia needs to make more of an effort.
I hope you've enjoyed www.victiorianlondon.org as much as me these last ten years, although that's hardly likely.
Would I do it all again, knowing what I know now? Tragically, I fear I would.
This is not really a competition, so don't get excited. It just occurred to me that it would be nice to have a picture of a cake on the site.
Would any of you fabulous artistic people out there be able to draw me a Victorian-themed cake?
The prize will be that it appears on front page of my website. This is not really a prize; but that does not matter.