Paying respects: Death, commodity culture, and the middle class in victorian London



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis attempts to fulfill the need for a study of the relationship between middle-class consumerism and death culture in nineteenth-century London by analyzing manifestations of middle-class death culture – private cemeteries, mourning, funeral ephemera, and the providers of these. The structure of this thesis provides the reader with a history, as well as a detailed description, of the consumerist aspects of death. The second chapter examines the intellectual roots of the death culture and how new discourses passed through to the denizens of the nineteenth century. The third chapter explores the rising popularity and meanings of the new private cemeteries and the overwhelming sanitary issues of the middle Victorian period. The fourth chapter covers the business of selling death ephemera to the members of the middle class and the people who sold it. The final chapter looks at the decline of Victorian sentimentality and the increasing popularity of "modern" practices. All chapters emphasize the middle-class association and the deeper meanings.