Cracks in the Image: Victorian Tattoos


When you think of tattoos during the Victorian Period, if you think of them at all, you probably imagine carnival acts--the strongman or the bearded lady.

But, wonder of all wonders...

That image isn't necessarily true.

For a time during the Victorian Period, tattoos actually became quite the trend among the British aristocracy and some wealthy Americans. Check out the Encyclopedia of Body Adornment for a bit more information.

The fad, in most cases, is traced back to 1862 when the Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VII, got a Jerusalem cross tattooed on his arm. Accounts even suggest that he got a number of traditional tattoos on his body throughout his life. Interesting stuff.

Check out this site on Tattoo History for more information on tattoos in England.

Other noted tattooed members of the aristocracy include: both of the King's sons and the 7th Marchioness of Londonderry who had a snake tattooed on her leg in 1903.

But the aristocracy wasn't the only group of individuals who had a fascination with the tattoo during the Victorian Period, the middle-class also had a love of the art. Discreet tattoos were all the rage, and it is even rumored that Winston Churchill's mother, who later become Lady Randolph Churchill, had a snake tattooed around her wrist.

Read this for more on women and tattooing.


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