|Man with Beard (1864) Henry Tanworth Wells|
|Mr Walker looks cheery as he discovers Evolution...|
Armed with my copy of a fabulous and very informative book, Muffs and Morals by Pearl Binder (Who sniggered? Shame on you! I'm starting the muff references early this year...) I made an indepth study of Victorian beardiness in all its forms and what we can infer from the fur. Ms Binder claims that there was a love affair with the beard in Victorian times, that gentlemen would look forward to their first beard with more fevered anticipation than their first visit to a brothel. She quotes a particularly sickening letter from Charles Dickens, eulogising about his lovely beard with such flowery language that you'd think he was talking about a girl. Sadly, he was talking about his beard. No, really.
|Young and Beardless|
Well, good Lord, what a difference! Mr Dickens is modelling a cheek-free beard, which seems to be free-styling into some odd, forked thing at the end. Rossetti was a chin-beard type too, preferring to keep his cheeks free of fuzz...
|Young and Dreamy...|
|Mature and Hairy...|
It seemed almost compulsory in the nineteenth century if you were male that you had to grow a beard (I'll come to those that abstained in a moment, and why they shouldn't be trusted, the cads). In a period where maturity was prized, the outward sign was anticipated with baited breath. A beard meant you were a man, you were a prized specimen of masculinity in all its hairy wonderfulness. For some men, the hairier, the better...
There are moments when William Holman Hunt seems more beard than anything else. In fact, I find it odd seeing him without his beard. It seems unnatural, like someone had sneaked up and stolen it when he wasn't looking. I believe Hunt grew his full beard by the age of eight and used it as a shade when he was painting in the Holy Land. True story.
Hunt hasn't got the most outrageous beard of the nineteenth century, oh no. He is a mere girl by the standards of the Victorian era. For the real manly men with proper beards you could lose a herd of deer in, you have to brace yourself and head for Google. Ladies, you may want to uncork the smelling salts now, as some of the following images are ripe with manly attractiveness. You have been warned...
|Hello Handsome, nice chin-beard...|
|My word, what a long beard you have....|
|Well, I say, may I call you Daddy?|
But it wasn't just beard fanatics that could express themselves through their facial hair. Some gentlemen with actual day jobs displayed fine beards that no doubt enhanced their reputation in the literary or scientific worlds, while making them a sure-fire hit with the ladies...
|Tennyson, sporting some Guy Fawkes inspired whiskers|
|Charles Darwin, or my husband, it's hard to tell with that beard...|
|G F Watts could play the fiddle with his beard. True Story.|
|I bet you have all just mentally run your fingers through his luxurious beard...|
|He's a looker, but you know he's just going to leave you pregnant and disgraced...|
|Cad, no doubt about it...|
|Such a Bounder!|
Don't let fine military or literary careers fool you, they will cause you nothing but heart-break. It's the amount of dishonesty in their veins that inhibits the beard, I promise. Ah, while I'm on the subject, avoid the beardless man at all costs. He will ruin you!
|Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, you love rat!|
I think history speaks for itself.
So, to recap, beards are good, no beard equals moral disaster. I'm not sure how this can be applied to women though...
Oh, I don't know, I think the cleavage and van dyke beard is a rather winning combination...