Victorian’s Heart Landscape Could Charm or Frighten

Along with fashions popular in the Era, the Victorians ushered in all sorts of societal change. One lasting convention was the new idea that marriage should be based on romantic love instead of by arrangement or for “convenience.”

With the new societal dynamic, references to and descriptions of love appeared frequently. A popular mid-century lithograph, published by D.W. Kellogg and titled “A Map of the Open Country of a Woman’s Heart,” offered a clever allegory: a heart-shaped rendering of all the aspects of love felt by women and how the facets were interrelated. 

In the center of the heart is the City and District of Love. Several pathways through the heart are available, but most lead to problems and ruination. The Love District forms the northern part of the Region of Sentiment and its areas of Friendship, Platonic Affection, Good Sense, Hope and Prudence. This region is bisected by the River of Consciousness, which winds through the gates of Esteem and empties into the Country of Solid Worth. 

Ahh, but love’s pitfalls are many, according to the diagram, and can snag the unsuspecting woman. To the west lies the Land of Selfishness where the Indulgence River runs near the Land of Coquetry and Fickleness. There, the Road of False Hopes tragically carries some unfortunates to the Land of Oblivion beyond. Just north of that lies the Land of Love of Admiration where ladies must take care not to drown in the Lake of Self Conceit or trudge through Vanity and get lost in the Load Stone Mountains.

The path northeast is no safer. Traveling to the Land of Love of Dress, one could be hemmed in by the Pyramids of Fashion, Feather Hill, or the Satin Plains that lead to Bonnet Ridge. Those who make it further will encounter the Land of Love of Display where, upon entering the cold waters of the Jewelry Inlet, they may be carried out to the Sea of Wealth, only to drown in “Old Man’s Darling” Bay.

The lithograph was supposedly created “by a lady” and Mr. Kellogg merely published it. Taken “tongue-in-cheek” or seriously, it served as an accepted guide to love and affection for young women coming of age in the 1800s.

This month the Historical Society will host a Valentine-making event February 10, sponsored by The Craft Box at the Baugh House (44th & Robb Street) from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Store owner Liz Boxler explains that her goal is to reduce waste by selling gently used craft items and encourage creativity through classes and events. She will provide card stock paper for the WRHS event. The Valentines will be delivered to local neighbors in need of extra love this season. All levels of crafters are welcome.   

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