‘Sometimes the subject’s eyes were propped open, or they painted the pupils onto the skin to give the effect they were alive.’

Victorian death photos may seem disturbing, but for people in the 19th century, the photos provided comfort during times of grief. 

Nowadays it would be unusual, or perhaps even frowned upon, if we were to take a photograph of their body or face. However, post-mortem photography was once a common practice out of love and respect.

Victorian life was suffused with death. Epidemics such as diphtheria, typhus and cholera scarred the country, and from 1861 the bereaved Queen Victoria made mourning fashionable.

Because Victorians died young, died quickly, and died of injuries and infections, modern medicine helped abolish, they invented elaborate grieving rituals to give meaning to their loved ones’ short-lived lives.

Many people came up with creative ways to remember the dead. Post-Mortem Photography was done in preparation to have a printed photo of your dead family member displayed in the home.

Victorians would haul out their dead, prop them up on stands, and take a picture worth a thousand words. These stands helped corpses look alive, and allowed them to pose with their still-breathing family members.

London Crime Thriller Books by Paul:

I share a special love for London, both new and old. If you like London crime books, you will love these gritty thrillers.


The Carter’s: Wars in West London

Family is everything to the Carters’. Alf Carter runs his criminal empire with the help of his two sons, Kenny and Billy. But when family is everything, the ties that bind might be the deadliest of all. When Billy Carter should feel everything is before him, including the love of his life, it’s taken away when terrifying gangland violence threatens his life.

Bagley’s Lane: Blood On The Streets

After three brutal murders in quick succession. DI Luca Rossi’s catapulted into a world that threatens him and his family’s way of life. With sheer squirm-in-your-seat moments throughout. Bagley’s Lane is a mesmerising, old-fashioned brutal story of loss, obsession and survival.

Love You Till I Die

Billy Pearce is a well-respected heavyweight boxer from London. After his one and only love is taken, his life is thrown into the menace and treachery of London’s criminal underworld. Love You Till I Die is a novel about loyalty and reliability about people that love and care for each other but who, when push comes to shove, will do whatever to protect their own.

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