#Myrtle Mondays: Victorian Advertising

Dear Readers,

There’s just ONE WEEK LEFT before the fabulous Two-Book Launch Event Extravanganza for the Myrtle Hardcastle MysteriesPremeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away with Myrtle!  Marketing common sense tells me I should be showering you with reminders to BUY BUY BUY!! …but that seems a little coarse. Instead, I’ll show you some fabulous Victorians urging you to BUY BUY BUY. Deciding you simply cannot live without these astonishing wonders, you’ll naturally turn to Myrtle to fulfill all your Victorian desires. Subtle, yes? I thought so.


Advertising was big business in the Victorian era. Just like today, products had to fight to be noticed in a crowded marketplace. They used aspirational imagery, splashy colors, memorable slogans, familiar characters, and even humor to catch the consumer’s eye.

This advert for glue appeals to the middle class ideal of domestic harmony.

I take a lot of inspiration from period advertising imagery when writing about Myrtle’s world. These images would have been ubiquitous and familiar to girls like her, and help form the aesthetic, or design sensibility, of the era.

Keep an eye out for Celebrated Acme Weed Killer’s cameo appearance in Premeditated Myrtle!

To twenty-first century eyes, some of this artwork seems almost unbelievably lavish and beautiful, and original items can command high prices on the antique market. You can see why!

I love this poster for a few reasons. First, my mother-in-law, Judy (who you met last week!) is from Ottumwa, Iowa. Secondly, I love the artful incorporation of Iowa’s major cash crop, corn, in the lavish bouquet, suggesting that it’s probably the main ingredient in Lily Gloss Starch. I’m not this passionate about my laundry supplies, but this sure wouldn’t hurt my enthusiasm for the drudgery.

One of the things I love best about Brett Helquist’s beautiful covers for the Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries is how well they evoke this look. Myrtle looks like she’s stepped out of an ad for Pear’s Soap or a travel poster.

Aquarium biscuits… I guess like Fair Scones?

Still not sold? Well, how about a locust mowing the lawn?


This giant frog terrified of a small child? (Thank goodness the nerve pills are on hand!)


Skijoring youngsters?

My school only had foursquare.

Or maybe…

Or even…

If I still haven’t convinced you to read the Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries… well, the Victorians have the answer for that, too.


It’s no mystery! You don’t need to resort to quack patent medicines for your Victorian fix: just get your own copies of Premeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away with Myrtle! Out October 6, at booksellers, libraries, audio devices, and e-readers everywhere.


4 Responses to “#Myrtle Mondays: Victorian Advertising”

  1. J. Hyde

    Well, now I want an electric hairbrush! Ha! (hard pass on the arsenic wafers and cigares de joy though!) 😀

    • Elizabeth C. Bunce

      Oh, trust me, YOU DO NOT. *shudder* My curly hair and I still have flashbacks to the 1970s version of that device of diabolical torture….

  2. E. Hall

    I have read both of the Myrtle books as ARCs. Plesse, please, please write more! I adore them and preordered both as a gift for a granddaughter. This is everything I want in a mystery!!!!!! I love the vocabulary – even I had to look some words up. The characters are delightful and you bring them all to life. And I absolutely adored in the second one when Myrtle is at the train station and is greeted with “Stephen!” Oh, be still my heart! I must go read them both again!