[pic] The old age adage is a lady never reveals her age. Why, pray tell, must we fear getting older? I look forward to it with all the eagerness of a child! I shall let you in on a secret: I turned 30 years old a mere nine days ago. I am currently celebrating my milestone birthday on a solo tour of Great Britain.
Such a momentous occasion causes reflection. All I can say is I am thrilled beyond belief to put my 20s behind me. I am at the cusp of a new chapter in my life, both professionally and personally. The excitement is palpable!
If I were in the 19th century would I be labeled an eccentric spinster, as I have neither children nor spouse nor house? It has me wondering what was going on in the lives of prominent Victorian women when they were 30. Were they married? Did they have children? A career? A loving marriage? Numerous lovers? Live with their parents or relatives? What were their activities? I decided to take a peek for myself.
Louisa May Alcott (American)
The celebrated author of the book Little Women was not particularly celebrated when she turned 30. Those accolades would come five years later. Financially struggling, Alcott lived with her family, accepting many jobs to help make ends meet. She was a teacher, seamstress, governess, maid, nurse, and of course, a writer. It was an emotional year for her. She just wrote book for Ralph Waldo Emerson’s daughter, but also saw the death of her younger sister and the marriage of her eldest. Alcott remained unmarried and did not have issue, but she had women who remained the best of friends throughout her life.
Sarah Bernhardt (French)
The most famous actress in the entire world was the French star Sarah Bernhardt. By the time she was 30, she had been a nurse in the war, a prostitute, and the mistress of the Prince of Belgium, who happened to be the father of her then 10 year old son. As an actress Bernhardt was in over thirty productions, one of which included the lead role of Hamlet. How fantastic, is that?! Her acting career peaked in her 30s when she took on one her most famous roles in Voltaire’s Zaire.
Marie of Hesse and by Rhine (Russian)
Princess Marie was the wife of Alexander II of Russia. By this time she had been married for 13 years. While her husband “treated her well,” he already had three children with one of his mistresses. Princess Marie was the mother of six children of her own, one of which was the ill-fated Tsarvich Nicolas Alexander. Her 30th year was her last year as Princess before her and her husband were crowned Tsar and Tsarina of Russia.
Queen Victoria (English)
The Queen. The namesake of the era. By the time Queen Victoria was 30 she reined for a dozen years. She was married to her beloved Prince Albert for nine years and mother of six children, currently pregnant with her seventh. She already survived assignation attempts on her life. A feat not many can claim. Her world will shatter with the death of her Prince twelve years later, but for the present she knew only bliss.